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Forget keeping calm!

January 19th, 2015 by Penny

Apparently the keeping calm and carrying on principle for coping is absolutely not the thing to do!

We need to act. We are designed to act and when trouble appears….adrenalin boosts so we can act! Now if we use all our energy on denying there’s a problem to ‘look as if’ it doesn’t matter to us when it clearly does, we deny ourselves agency over our situation. Madness!

So the next time trouble appears. Think of the other adages….. there are no problems only solutions and if you’re not part of the solution your are part of the problem! Remind yourself that the reason for the keep calm and carry on, stiff upper lip approach was born out of fear – fear of being seen as inadequate or failing to cope …..so rooted in pride rather than meeting any need, even ones own!

Don’t keep calm. Use your emotional response to alert you to a need ……because that’s what it’s doing! – anger, frustration, panic, raised heartbeat, clenching fists, hot and cold flushes – all these are telling you something’s afoot that needs your attention. THEN engage brain. What is the best thing to do about this. Even if you decide it’s something you don’t need to tackle at all!….. at least you’ve taken your own response seriously.

If we practice this approach it strengthens our belief in ourselves and our choices – because we’ve down justice to ourselves and the need. This can only be good for us and the greater good. Happy New Year!

A poem about my new grandaughter, Marla.

April 28th, 2014 by Penny

Marla and me

This is a new time in our lives.

A new-born enters here.

The sweetest Marla has arrived

..her claim on life so clear!

Bright eyes!….. she scans her brand new world.

What’s this and this and this?

Her tiny mouth a little ‘o’,

as from a new blown kiss.

My arms hold tight her perfect form

My fingers seal the grasp

All bundled up, her eyelids drop

She falls asleep at last

Oh sweetest, sweetest, sweetest child

You really are so yummy

No wonder though –it’s no surprise

You’re so like your sweet Mummy!

Heart and Soul Warmer for 2-3 people

February 8th, 2014 by Penny


While the wind and rain batters us to bits, here’s my version of this timeless classic. There is nothing quite like taking a pot of this from the oven to the table, opening the lid and feeling the hit of herby, rich savoury steam fill the room. A good green salad with plenty of dressing and perhaps some crusty bread if you’re making it go along way, is all you need to accompany this.

You need a deepish, cast-iron enamelled (or similar) casserole dish with lid for this. I bring it to the boil on the top of the Aga first and then bake for 1/2hr at about 160 to get it really hot. Then transfer to simmering oven for a few hours at least.

3 slices belly pork (include any bones, fat and rind for flavour), cut into 5 cm pieces

3 garlicky pork sausages (you can use ordinary sausages if necessary with 2 extra cloves of garlic in the cooking pan)

3 x duck/chicken legs (optional)

Roast the duck or chicken legs ‘til browned, and set aside.

In a large frying pan, fry the belly pork ‘til browned, and set aside.

Fry the sausages ‘til browned, cut them into 5 cm pieces and set aside.

I large onion

2 cloves garlic

Tomato puree

1 tin of tomatoes

1 chicken stock cube

Red wine

Black pepper


Fry a large chopped onion in some oil until browned. Add 2 chopped cloves of garlic, a good squirt of tomato puree, a tin of chopped tomatoes, a chicken stock cube, a good glug of red wine, plenty of black pepper and enough water to keep it a thickish sauce.

Put all the meats into this lovely sauce and simmer for 10/15 mins until nicely rich and gooey. Add a little water from time to time to keep it from going too thick and sticking to the pan. Set aside.

2/3 tins cannellini beans

Half a loaf of white bread (not too fresh is easiest)

Thyme, bay and parsley

Open 2 tins of cannellini beans and rinse. You may need another tin if you want it beany.

Take half a loaf of white bread, broken into small pieces and whizz in a grinder to coarse breadcrumbs.

In your casserole put a layer of meat and tomato in the bottom. Then a layer of beans and repeat until it’s all used up. Add some water if you think it needs it.

Make a bundle of 2 thyme sprigs, a bay leaf and some parsley by winding some cotton around them (just leave the end loose… it wont’ unwind itself too much). Shove this in the centre of the pot.

Sprinkle the crumbs over the top of this and put the lid on.

Cook as above. Many recipes don’t use the breadcrumbs, they wait for the beans to go crusty instead and stir them in at least twice through extra long cooking time. And yes this is delicious!! However if you want to get on with other things and not have to worry about all that, the breadcrumb crust works excellently. It should absorb some of the cooking liquid and become crusty with gooey bits around the edge. Truly delicious!!

Thoughts on Getting Old!

January 27th, 2014 by Penny

I’m currently working with someone who is in rapid decline at the age of 91and suffering from the escalating effects of dementia. A few things have occurred to me. The inevitable questions ‘ how do I prepare for this and who do I involve?’ prompt more questions…….. and the one I am interested in most is to do with the loss of personal power. How do we handle this when it inevitably comes?

It seems to me that those people who are pro-active and self governing/ determining individuals, the ‘go out and get it’ people, may have the hardest time when they have to relinquish their power and control over their destiny to people they are likely not to know, let alone trust. The unhappiness and sense of resignation to the inevitable outcome seems to be the hardest thing they give to themselves to accept. Ironically their ‘get up and go’ leaves them and they give in! If they choose to fight….. rather than using their personal power to adapt….. they sink into loneliness and resentment, searching wildly for justification for doing so.

The other side of this coin is the person who has always seen themselves as victim in life (my 91 year old), the ‘it’s someone else’s fault so I don’t have to do anything or have anything to do with them’ ….types . They have already developed a catalogue of devices to get their needs met through covert methods and depend on a sense of grievance for their motivation. Eh voila!

And so I am witnessing a smiling, happily- accepting old lady, sit in her chair as if it was a rightful throne, having people wait on her, coax her, cater for her every need, talk for hours on end about the best thing to do for her and even squabbling over who should do it. Neighbours, care workers, sons, GP’s, paramedics, rapid response teams, community nurses, occupational health workers, physio’s, social care team workers, rehabilitation wards, respite carers – for one little old lady who is now somewhat away with the fairies anyway and who, in another setting (say 3rd world sector), would rely solely on her family’s ingenuity and devotion. In her current environment the family are actually impeded in their sense of control to respond to her needs by the seductive power of over complicated, fragmented ‘other agencies’ provision!

So. What of the ‘go out and get it’ people. What can they do as the inevitable loss of personal power looms. Take control now. My Mum has always been an avid reader. She’s also been one of the most practical people I know. I mean in how she tackles a problem with a solution in mind, using and trusting her creative responses and resourcefulness to deliver. Keeping busy has been her method when trouble appears. She has spent the last few years adapting to her new found incapacity (arthritis and other stuff). She can’t keep busy any more. So she’s gone back to reading about people who are or have been busy!

In terms of personal power and self- determination, what my Mum is doing is choosing to keep herself busy through reading about other people’s experiences.

Anyone out there including myself, a ‘go out and get it/fix it/make it happen person’, would do well to get this sort of stuff in place for the time when we can’t ‘get busy’ practically and in reality. Luckily the virtual world is out there. Electronically AND in real books.! That’s the key I suspect.

Gluten Free Victoria Sandwich Cake

January 15th, 2014 by Penny

Gluten Free Victoria Sandwich

2 x 7”/18cm sandwich tins, grease and lined bases

Baking oven at 350F/180C/Mark 4 Gas

8 oz Soft unsalted butter (President, Kerrygold, Anchor for best Vit D content/grass fed cows!)

8 oz caster cane sugar

4 medium free-range eggs plus 1 extra egg white

1 tspn of real vanilla essence

2 cups (8oz) King Arthur multi-purpose flour (American – available via Amazon)NB. NOT their baking mix.

2 tspns Baking powder

1 cup ground almonds, dry fried or toasted ‘til drier and golden brown.

Cream the butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy. This bit is really worth persevering with. Add the eggs one at a time, beating them in each time. Beat in the vanilla quickly.

In a separate bowl mix the flour, baking powder and toasted ground almonds then sieve the lot into the butter, sugar and egg mixture.. Tip what’s left in as well (ensures best distribution of dry ingredients). Fold into the mixture gently.

Divide between the tins and bake for about 20 mins.

When nearly cool, spread one half generously with raspberry jam and make the sandwich. Sprinkle with caster sugar.

Every one who eats this says they have never eaten a gluten free cake that actually tastes like the real thing and this DOES! I think it’s the texture that makes all the difference. Try it. Yum!

Getting back on track

January 12th, 2014 by Penny

Well, moving into the new year it’s time to look forward again. After the business of The Christmas Season ……. so much to do and no time to reflect…… we have probably excused ourselves from our responsibility to ourselves! And now we are wanting…… Perhaps we have even fallen into the ‘poor me’ trap again and got stuck. “I did all the work and no-one even thanked me” or “I’ve been so busy looking after everyone else’s needs I’ve not had time for my own”. So now it’s time to pick up the thread. Actually most things take two and if we do blame another person or people for our downfall, they usually can take some of the blame!!! So go ahead and wallow a bit in your self pity. You deserve it. But use this to lever yourself out and upwards not to further glue yourself to the bottom.

It’s time to get a goal. Just a little one that’ll contribute in some way to your longer term stuff. If you feel there’s some kind of blockage just ask what’s getting in the way. Perhaps your’e run down, tired, bored. Tackle the obstacle. What could you do to pep yourself up, stimulate the brain cells and/or fitness levels. Make yourself a list of things and pick something. It could be that you just need a rest!

It could also be that since the last time you looked…..things have changed ….you’ve changed…and you need to look at things differently. Make a completely new plan with different options and ways forward.

I’ve just looked up my marmalade recipe. Lots of small goals are what I need at the moment and making marmalade seems appealing. I saw loads of Seville oranges in the shops the other day and the thought of that rich citrusy smell wafting about the house lifts my spirits.

From ‘Delicious Home Cooking’ by Caroline Conran

1.5 kg of Seville oranges

2 kg lump or granulated sugar

Wash the oranges and cut in half crossways. Put them into a pan with 1.8 litres of water. Simmer, covered for 2 hours, bringing the water back to its original level as it boils away. Leave to soak for at least 24 hours. Bring back to the boil and boil for 1 hour. Then leave to cool.

Remove the orange halves and take out all the pips and pulp, putting them back into the liquid in the pan. Give the liquid and pips one last boil and then sieve, working the pips against the sieve with a wooden spoon to get out all the pulp and pectin. Warm the sugar, slice the orange halves thinly and cut the slices across into shortish lengths.

Add the sliced peel to the liquid and heat. Tip in the sugar and stir over a low heat and boil until setting point is reached ,105C (220F).

Skim of any scum, leave to cool a little and pour into clean heated jars. Cover with plastic lined lids (or use selophane discs). Yum!!!

Unfinished Projects?

July 31st, 2013 by Penny

Remember.. you can complete a project by dropping it!!!!

July 15th, 2013 by Penny

New Gift Vouchers

July 15th, 2013 by Penny

Gift Vouchers

SAMPLE (to follow)

Actual size 10 x 21 cms. Printed on card.

Fantastic idea for a present for someone who’s been talking to you about being stuck or bored or looking for a new direction.

Only one health warning: Because one of the crucial aspects of successful coaching is the voluntary principle – the person needs to WANT to get coaching, giving a voucher to someone, in order for the coaching experience to be successful, needs to be on the basis that person has volunteered the fact they are stuck already, to you. Trust your own judgment on this. Feedback from people who have given these vouchers to friends has been amazing (except one husband to wife blunder!!!).

Carrie said: ‘I gave one of these to my Dad for his 60th. At first he didn’t understand what Life Coaching was so I made him look at Penny’s Coach Works website and then he looked at the other one for women too!! When he rang her he says that was the start of the next bit of his life…..’

Each of the 4 coaching sessions is worth £65.

The cost of this voucher is £200.00

Contact Penny Budgen (see contact pages on Coach Works and Creature Comforts Coaching for women websites)

Teach Your Children Well

July 10th, 2013 by Penny

Teach your children well……… it’s down to us now ladies. Well it always has been really. We’ve just devoted too much of ourselves to centuries of covering male insecurity!

All my life I have resisted aligning myself to feminism for fear of compromising my individuality and personal integrity. Now it’s quite clear to me that:

‘If we want to save the world we must let women in to stop men fighting it out’.

Today at Tescos, having paid for my petrol and leaving the kiosk, I stood back to give way to a lady who was clearly struggling with the step at the door. This blocked the doorway. A guy came up behind me and pushed my shoulder with his finger, just lightly but it was a push. I asked him please to not push me and turned my gaze to the woman trying to get through the door, hoping he would follow it. Perhaps he hadn’t noticed her plight. He prodded me again in the shoulder, harder this time. ‘Please don’t push me’ I said. ‘I’m not pushing you, I just want you to hurry up. Hurry up!’ he said forcefully. Finally (20 seconds later!) the lady got through the door and he pushed past me. ‘Bully?’ I said quietly. He turned as if to remonstrate but sensibly seemed to make a choice on the side of his being in a hurry and went straight to his car.

Now this event could be construed as some sexist offence, after all I suspect this chap would not have dreamt of prodding me in the shoulder had I been a man. However, as a result of my social conditioning, I chose to see the humanity in his behaviour. Perhaps he had a sick child in the car. But it made me ask myself, why don’t we teach our male children to use their brains to get along in the world instead of their brawn? They do pushing, shoving and fighting instinctively. We don’t need to nurture that bit. It’s destructive. Look around you. We need to give them some other stuff to work with.

He could have been taught to use pleasing people to get his needs met: “Excuse me, so sorry but could I squeeze through, thanks’. Instead, obviously compromised between his urge to impose his will over thinking it through (….. ‘even if I’ve got a sick child in the car, I’m probably going to get back to them quicker if I go with what’s happening here than against it and as an added bonus I’ll be being polite to two people’) he gave in to his baser urges, to dominate. Perhaps the buzz of dominating made him feel more effective, while my ego is probably boosted by demonstrating respect for others! Maybe for both of us its down to our genes and how we are trained genderwise……

So the only bit we can actually change is our values and attitudes and we all need to change. Women need to stop giving themselves away. We need all our resources to carry the world. We must stop giving men the benefit of the doubt and all our emotional goods because they can’t be bothered to learn how to have emotional goods themselves. We need to believe in ourselves and that our way is the best way……….enough to teach it to our children equally (boys and girls). It doesn’t have to be ‘them and us’, the war of the sexes…. it’s just time to redress the balance.

And men need to support all that……knuckle down and do the work, to save themselves.

Oh and the poor chap with the sick child in the car I invented for him? He was probably just a bit tired and emotional!

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