Brenda’s Little Helpers

Hitting the menopause at the ripe old age of 58, was when everything seemed to start dropping off, drying up, mixed in with a large dose of “glowing” in not the best way.  Up to that point, my skin and hair were grand, albeit when I looked in the mirror without my glasses.  I have found the soft focus provided by not wearing my glasses is definitely the light that Joan Collins asked the camera man to use in “Dynasty”.  (Now, that is definitely showing my age.)

I am an advertiser’s dream; but have got much more enlightened as to what works.  For me – and that’s important.  I get skin treatments and will talk about the places I go and what treatments I like, in another post.  These above products are what I take and what works, for me,  from the inside out.  Aided and abetted by lots of water, especially glasses of cooled, boiled water as I find it goes down much easier and lots and lots of green tea.  I won’t mention the wine which is purely for medicinal purposes.  Nothing nicer than the pop of a cork and the glug glug of a crisp glass of Sauvignon with lovely friends.

IoniCell – the blurb “IoniCell for Women is a supplement that helps the body generate collagen, grow lustrous hair, helps nails grow stronger, rehydrates cells for healthier skin, and stimulates collagen for a more youthful appearance. It works to protect, energize, and enhance cells through a patented ingredient, Ioniplex, which is a naturally occurring fulvic acid that contains over 65 trace minerals. It works at the cellular level to promote beauty from deep within.

It has been scientifically shown to reduce naturally occurring cell damage by promoting cellular integrity and function through the signature ingredient. This results in stronger and thicker nails, smoother and healthier hair, and more radiant and youthful looking skin. It improves the appearance of all hair types.”

This is what I have found after three months of usage.  Definitely better hair.  I do use good quality shampoos, and don’t bother with styling tools during the week, to help.  My hair is thicker after a lot of damage from extensions and has grown much quicker in the last two months.  I’ll never be Rapunzel, but when I use styling tools, the style holds much better. My skin quality has improved, not so much of a parched desert with cracks scenario and my nails are growing really well.  Since retiring, I am a divil for finding things to do around the house, but there has not been any breakage in the last 8 weeks, which is pretty good

MenoMin – the blurb “Cleanmarine® MenoMin is ideal for menopausal women, helping to regulate hormonal activity, maintain normal mucous membranes, as well as reduce tiredness and fatigue. Plus all the benefits of Cleanmarine Krill Oil.

Traceability from Sea to Shelf: Cleanmarine phospholipid Krill oil ingredient has been certified by the Marine Stewardship Council as being from a well managed, sustainable traceable fishery. Provides omega 3 as phospholipids which provides benefits in key areas including;

  • Mg to mg Cleanmarine delivers 60% more omega 3 to the cells than fish oil
  • Faster Omega 3 absorption
  • Doesn’t repeat like fish oil”

Now remember the dropping off, the drying up, the “glowing” I talked about earlier?  Honestly, these have really helped..  I am not kicking the bed clothes off, I’m up at 8am most mornings as I’m retired,  and just don’t feel as tired.  Anything to get through what can, essentially, be a hard time for women and finally….

Zenflore – the blurb “Zenflore supports your mind and body during busy and demanding times and reduces fatigue. The special 1714-Serenitas culture in Zenflore was discovered and developed by PrecisionBiotics®, in partnership with scientists and clinicians from one of the world’s leading centres of research on the microbiome and the gut-brain axis, the APC Microbiome Institute in UCC, Ireland. By combining this unique Bifidobacterium longum 1714TM culture with specially selected vitamins, Zenflore supports your mind and reduces fatigue. This naturally occurring bacteria is part of the family of bacteria given by mother to baby at birth.”

If I could recommend anything, I would recommend these.  You know those fluttery feelings of anxiety that one can get, sometimes upon waking.  When all the little and large worries of the day take hold. Or just before sleep… these just help.  I honestly can cope so much better.  The world can be hard at times and I, for one, constantly worry about my family as all I want is their happiness.  If I was to take nothing else, I would take these.

I haven’t put in any links to any of the above.  They can be got very easily online or in shops

So here’s to things staying put, and feeling generally less of a red tomato more of a pink, velvety rose.  And no crankiness………..


Bren x





I have these really old cookery books.  The one I took this recipe from was from the Irish National Dairy Council from 1985, and I borrowed (stole) it from my sister, Marie. It is dog eared and flour eared at this stage.  I also often use a very old book that my cousin used back in the day when girls did Domestic Science as part of the school curriculum called “All in the Cooking”.  It’s just brilliant for simple things like pancakes mixes and also does a great line in soups and broths for invalids (!) and sauces. We have so many cookery books at home.  We love Donal Skehan and Rick Stein but my husband is the real cook in the house; one of those boring people who just improvises and tastes and adds a soupçon here and a soupçon there and has no difficulty with timing. Unflappable. Insert eyes up to heaven emoji.  Anyway, this is a fool proof recipe for profiteroles.  The chocolate sauce is to die for and you can’t go wrong and it works for 6 people so just halve or double to your heart’s content.

Choux Pastry  

4 ozs. butter, 1 pint water, 5 ozs. plain flour, pinch of salt and 4 eggs beaten.

Put butter and water into a saucepan over a low heat.  When butter has melted, bring to a brisk boil

Reduce heat to a low setting, add sieved flour and salt all at once to saucepan. Beat (and I mean beat) over the heat until the mixture leaves the sides of the pan clean and forms into a ball.  Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.

Gradually add the beaten eggs, a little at a time.  Beat (and I mean, beat) after each addition.  After all the eggs have been added, the mixture should be shiny and hold its shape.

Pipe (actually, I use two tea spoons) onto greased baking trays into mounds that are 1 inch across, spacing them a little apart.  Bake in preheated oven at 220 degrees (mine is a fan oven) for 10 minutes, then reduce heat to 180 degrees for 12 minutes.

Remove from oven and make a hole in each profiterole with the point of a knife to release the steam. Cool completely on a wire tray before filling.

When cold, pipe (I use a teaspoon – you can see the extent of my  technical ability here) a little whipped cream into the profiteroles and pile them on a serving plate. I try for the pyramid effect.

Chocolate Sauce


8 ozs. dark chocolate (I use Bournville), 6 tblspns. cream, 2 tblspns. brandy or Jamaica Rum. Captain Morgan does the trick for us.

Break the chocolate into pieces and place in a bowl with cream and rum.

Place the bowl over a pan of simmering water. Stir until the chocolate melts

Just before serving pour the sauce over the profiteroles.  I do this at the table so guests can go “ooh and aahh”.  Because at my age, the more Oohs and Aahhs you get the better.  Serve with whipped cream and remaining chocolate sauce.

Oh.  And drink the rum…………………..

Bren x



Halloween Barmbrack – as old as the hills


We used to call this Tea Brack, I suppose because of soaking the fruit in cold tea beforehand.  We used to have great Halloweens, but actually rarely did the whole decoration “thing”.  We did, however, play games.  One was where my mum used to stand on a chair and have an apple which was smeared in jam hanging from a twine the full length of her height.  As she swung the apple, we had to try and take a big bite out of it while the jam smeared all over our faces and hair.  Another was to have some money in a bottom of a basin of luke-warm water and we had to dip our heads in and try and get that coin.  We would have lots and lots of callers for Trick or Treat, and monkey nuts and fruit were the main goodies.  Things have changed.  And it’s kind of sad that kids don’t call much anymore.  I remember dressing up as Joanna Lumley in Ab Fab one year. Stuck two large Christmas decorations in my ears, lots of hairspray, cigarette, bottle of champers, syringe full of Botox and Bob really was my uncle.  One of my better moments, because God help my children, I was never good with the old needle and thread and they either ended up in bin bags with things stuck on, or bought costumes.  Terrible mother!!  Anyway – to the recipe handed down by my grandmother.

1 lb of dried fruit (at least half raisins),

6 ozs brown sugar

Half pint of cold tea

1 lb plain flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon mixed spice

1 egg

2 tablespoons milk

Grease 8″ tin and line with grease proof paper

Soak fruit and sugar in tea.  Next day, sieve flour, baking powder and mixed spice. Stir in soaked mixture.  Mix in beaten egg, milk and put in tin, .

Bake for 2 hours at 180 degs. Make sure to place a ring, a piece of cloth and a stick, all wrapped up in grease proof paper.  Whoever gets the ring, will marry; whoever gets the cloth will be a  nun, and whoever gets the stick will never marry

Bren x


A short and very sweet trip to Copenhagen

I turned 60 this year and as always, it’s not unusual for one or other of your peers to do likewise.  So, you get your similar minded pal who wants to celebrate the WHOLE year too and you make the decision over a glass of water (not) to go somewhere – see somewhere you haven’t seen.  I, however, was in the unfortunate position of having a pal who has seen most of the cities of Europe and I think it’s really not worth while on a two night break to go beyond a two and half hour flight.  Many glasses later, we decided on Copenhagen.

Once I set my mind to do anything, I am “up and at ’em” and I had flights booked before we had taken the tablets to sort out the fluid intake.  For the time of year (October), Ryanair came out trumps with €35.00 return per person.  Next stop, and our hotel was booked.  I just like this website, as it does give you the option to pay when you arrive but we chose to pay beforehand. I had been talking to a friend and luckily the first one that I had chosen, was one that she had stayed in and she said not only was it very close to the “Ladies of the Night” (which really doesn’t bother me), but that the rooms were not very clean.  So, we ended up staying in the raddisson collection.  This is actually the city’s tallest building and has 20 floors.  It was designed by architect Arne Jacobson in 1960.  Rooms are spacious with espresso machine (Yesssss!!!!)  and the usual fridge of wine and prosecco plus we were a 5 minute walk from the Central Station, which has trains running every 15 minutes to and from the airport.  Best get a 48 hour ticket which allows you on all modes of transport – sort of – excluding the On/Off Tour buses. The Metro is also very quick and convenient, depending on where you stay.  Breakfast in the hotel was divine.  Cost of stay worked out at €112.50pp excluding breakfast for two nights.  Breakfast was €25.00 extra.  At the time of writing this, 100 DK was equal to €13.40. Reception were so helpful and from the get go, people were very friendly and helpful.  Someone even got off his bike to come over to help two old ditherers locate themselves.

We arrived at our hotel at about 5.00pm so really there was not a lot we could do except potter and have a glass of wine. Or two.  We ended up quite close to our hotel and sat outside under heating at a bar called  oscarbarcafe.  We couldn’t help but notice that the men were particularly charming and of course we thought we hadn’t lost “it”, but it turns out it was a Gay and Lesbian Venue.  Sure what matter.  It was on a gorgeous autumn, tree lined street.  We asked two people with their divine dog to suggest somewhere we should eat just for that evening and lo and behold there was a really cool Brasserie on exactly the same street.  Highly recommend.  Food very good and average pricing, as in same as here.  Nothing is really cheap in Copenhagen, so bear that in mind.

Next morning, a bright and shiny day full of promise, off we go On the On/Off Red bus.  Take note of all the different routes one can travel on these redbuses.  We chose one which took us first to the wonderful Nyhavn (see above image).  visit copenhagen

It’s the prettiest town and I tried out my camera without boring Jane by taking too much time adjusting aperture, ISO, shutter speed.  Couldn’t resist the lovers’ locks.  Since I took up my camera course, I am always on the look out for a nice shot or a different view.  My knees don’t thank me.   We meandered along the quays.  It’s really busy, but just great for people spotting and just sitting at a side walk cafe and basking in the October sun.  On the bus again to take us to the Little Mermaid.  These buses have the usual head phones to keep you posted on what’s around.  We had been warned that the Little Mermaid was really small, so that she exceeded our expectations and was a decent size mermaid, as mermaids go!  Next stop for us the absolutely beautiful Rosenborg Castle.

This castle has full security because it houses the magnificent Crown Jewels in the Treasury.  You buy an entrance ticket and leave large bags in a locker.  We chose our mobile phones to talk us through the various rooms, but you know, I’d have preferred a book, as sometimes you get too much of your phones.  However, you are allowed take photos in all rooms.  Everything seems to be covered in gilt and not your common or garden cheap stuff.  This is the real McCoy.  Do visit the Treasury, because it is gasp worthy.  The Botanic Gardens are sublime.  Off we went on our bus to the absolutely awfully disappointing Hans Christian Andersen Museum.  DO NOT GO.  It mainly contains a Ripley Believe it or Not exhibition and the Hans Christian Andersen part, although sweet, is kind of tacky.  I did learn that he really based The Ugly Duckling on himself as both he and others considered him ugly.  How very very sad.  I am so glad that he is celebrated in Copenhagen for the wonderful writer that he was.  I grew up on his stories and all had some little kind message to convey.

Unfortunately for us, the Tivoli Gardens were closed for the winter.  It’s a fabulous place; a fairy tale ambience, exotic buildings and upmarket entertainment and restaurants. I believe Walt Disney took his inspiration from here.  Tivoli does open for six weeks between mid-November and the end of December for a winter wonderland and “elf driven, Father Christmas – strewn, illuminated Christmas extravaganza”. (Eye Witness Travel).  Lit pumpkins were already lining the main thoroughfare for similar Halloween celebrations which take place mid October.  We had booked a restaurant mentioned in our guide called Nimb Brasserie.  Food and service to die for and a super view of the Tivoli.  We then went to Trio for cocktails.  As you do.  Great place and cocktails were about €15.00.  A bit pricey but………….

I was so very sad to be leaving Copenhagen early enough the next day.  So much more to see including the great shopping area called Stroget, The Latin Quarter, Amalienborg Palace and so much more. A super clean, eco friendly and people friendly place. Fewer cars on the road as everyone uses their bikes.  Way to go, Denmark

Bucket list territory.

Bren x