Friday, 30 April 2010


Alison has been working very hard with the less able children this week, trying to get them to understand what is meant by 'the difference between' two numbers. They've built towers with bricks, jumped along stepping stones, counted on 10x10 squares and generally been as active as they could possibly be.

Alison: So who can tell me what is two more than three?
Struggling Little Boy: er . . . is it 5?
A: Well done, S L B. So - what is the difference between three and five?
S L B thinks very, very hard, then his little face lights up.
S L B: I know, I know - three is all curly and five has a straight line hat at the top.


Friday morning

Yesterday was a suprisingly interesting day. The unexpected meeting in the morning turned out to be an excellent demonstration and explanation of the assessment and progress monitoring package used by the Columbus School, our local (and rapidly developing) special school. This happens to be the school that DG attends, so it was also personally interesting. Apart from the knowledge gained, the outcome was the formation of the LDG (Local Delivery Group) SEN Group. We will meet once a term with the intent to learn from those who know - in other words, the Columbus School staff will train us in areas within which they specialise. The next meeting is in July and will focus on Autism (they are an Autism Society accredited school). I went back to school inspired and enthused.
It did help that Malcolm, the head, has a remarkably clear speaking voice, so I heard every word, and he is so enthusiatic and can explain very clearly and succinctly.

The weather held in the afternoon so we were able to get out for games, which went well. They do like their games: the focus was bats and balls, which they are not so confident about. There's always one little show off, at least, when the focus is throwing and catching! It was very warm and rather humid, so the rain later on has come as a relief.

The next BodyChef hamper arrived last night, but after I'd gone to bed. So this morning I've had the fun of unpacking it all. It's a bit complicated as I shall not be at home for a couple of days, but some can go in the freezer and DD/DG will use up the rest, so no waste! I've swapped around a couple of meals so that I can freeze a couple which I know will freeze well.

Best news of all - I weighed this morning (I know I said the first of each month but I've changed it to the last day of each month instead - it felt better) and nine pounds seem to have bitten the dust since April 20th. Now I know that an awful lot of that will be fluid, but what an encouraging start!

Today's eating is:
Breakfast: Bran flakes, sultanas and a plum (left over from an earlier day
Lunch: ryvita with ham, cheese and a cherry tomato. I might have the salad that is for tomorrow lunch instead of the tomatoes.
Dinner: Chicken casserole with rice, followed by fruit salad (but I think I will have the lime torte (Saturday evenings) instead and have the fruit salad for breakfast tomorrow.
Snacks: an apple and some cashews.
I know it looks a bit complicated and disorganised, but I know what I'm doing (I think)!

Thursday, 29 April 2010

Thursday morning

. . . and, thank goodness, I slept until a reasonable time (reasonable for me anyway) this morning and do feel a whole lot better for it. These early mornings are all very well, one gets a lot done, but the repercussions in the afternoon are not worth it. Trying to stay awake in staff meeting can be interesting, to say the least, when everything within you is crying out for a nice comfy bed and some plump pillows!

And then back to another FirstClass 'issue', created by one somewhat unpleasant and, possibly, careless message sent by one person. It's all rather blown up off FC now, which is causing some difficulties, but the way people are pulling together and being supportive is heartwarming and encouraging and shows the very best of the FC network.

As for today, I find that I am off to an unexpected SEN meeting thingy called by our Local Delivery Group. I think that normally the Head would go, but she finds herself unexpectedly busy, so I'm going instead, despite the need to pay for yet more supply cover. I have no idea what it's all about apart from something inclusion-y but will be told soon enough, I expect.
Susannah is so busy because before Easter we advertised for two teachers to full gaps in the staff come September and we have been totally bowled over by the response, which was utterly and completely unexpected. For example, yesterday Susannah showed three groups of potential candidates around, each group numbering at least six. And that's been happening more or less every day this week and last.
As one of the posts will involve working alongside me as the other year 1 teacher, and as I am KS coordinator, I will be involved in shortlisting and interviewing, so I eye these groups up with more than the usual passing interest as they meander past, but it's impossible to remember anyone! Should be fun . . .!

With all this going on, eating a good, balanced diet is essential (I have to find a link to BC somehow!) so here's today's chomping:
Brekkie: A toasted muffin with jam and some fruit
Lunch: A ham and salad wrap and some grapes
Dinner: Spaghetti bolognaise and a trifle for dessert
Shacks are sunflower seeds and an orange. There's also a couple of jaffa cakes but I will give them a miss and substitute fruit for brekkie because I don't think just a muffin is enough really!
It will be a new month on Saturday and I will be weighing to see how much weight has gone since being on BodyChef. they way my clothes feel is an good indication that some has gone. And then it's off to Letchworth and dinner out with Mum and Dad before going to see the Arcadians' latest show. That will mean two BC dinners for the freezer (steak mince casserole and rich rosemary chicken) and a lot of bits and bobs for DD and DG to help me use up! I could and perhaps should have cancelled this weekend's delivery, but in the end I decided to keep on with it and to share out things I'm not using immediately. I'll be having DG to stay over the Whit weekend so I will give that delivery a miss and can use up the dinners then.

With just a few reservations, I think I will be happy to continue using BodyChef for a longer period of time, although the bottom line will be how the finances stand up to the strain. At present, I am starting to realise how much I went into Morrisons almost every day for stuff that really I didn't need at all. I strongly suspect that actually I will be better off, despite the expense of the hampers, but will need a couple of months to truly judge that. The reservations are really slight niggles and can be got round by using a little flexibility. For example, with the snacks, fruit, nuts and seeds are great, but I'm not so keen on the jaffa cakes, gingernuts, etc. I love them, that's the trouble, they set off a wee bit of a craving at the moment and I'd rather stick to the unrefined stuff for snacks. If I can substitute (which I can, using Weight Loss Resources to determine the calories) nuts, seeds and fruit for them, DG can have the unwanted stuff for his lunchboxes. It should work fine. One can, of course, order the hampers without snacks, but they cost the same as those with, so there's not much point really! I'd rather have the snacks and the flexibility!
Goodness, I have gone on rather. That's the trouble with thinking! And now I have to go and toast that muffin!

Have a good day

Wednesday, 28 April 2010

Wednesday morning

Good morning, everyone. Nearly half way through the week now. I was up so very early this morning, bright eyed and bushy tailed, raring to start the day and not at all tired. Useful for getting things done but I really do think that before three is a tad on the daft side! Still, the literacy and theme plannings are more or less done for next week and the maths has been started. Excellent!

Today's menu is:
Breakfast: toast, and orange and grapefruit salad.
Lunch: Egg mayo on pitta bread with a salad.
Dinner: BBQ chicken with rice followed by a mixed fruit salad and a meringue nest
Snacks are a piece of fruit, some cashews and some dried apricots.
Sounds good and looks good too.

I wasn't overly impressed with the turkey loaf last night. It was nice enough but needed a sauce to go with it as it was pretty dry. OK, not outstanding though!

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Photo gallery

A beautiful tulip.

A tip

If you've been tidying up your bedroom and have found a glass (or three) that contained water which has all evaporated away leaving a lot of scaling inside the glass (embarrassed blush), this works a treat.
Use the cheapest vinegar you can find, pour a little into the glass, top up with water and leave for about half an hour or so. Then wipe around the inside of the glass and hey presto - no scale!

Tuesday morning

I blame the volcanic ash. Well, there's got to be something in the air. Yesterday the children were high as kites almost all day. It wasn't just my class, Liz said the same thing. And they were SO noisy coming into assembly, that they have to practise it again at playtime today - should have been yesterday play but the Foundation Stage Violins (yes, you did read that correctly) use the hall during Monday play. That's not just my class, it's the whole of FS and KS1.
Yesterday afternoon, while groups were taking turns to plant their bean seeds, I had to stop the rest four times - FOUR - because they were so noisy. That's not like my class at all! Most unusual.

Ah, well, today is SEN day and, as everyone is back now, all the PPA times are also back. Important Paperwork, a visit from the Educational Psychologist - lovely lady - and some reviewing of FS children are all on the timetable today. Let's hope the little dears behave for Faith!

Food today is as follows:
Brekkie: Bran flakes and sultanas (and some left over raspberries)
Lunch: Ryvita, soft cheese, beetroot and a yogurt
Dinner: Turkey loaf with cranberry sauce, new potatoes and sweetcorn, followed by a fruit fool
Snacks are a piece of fruit and rice cakes with marmite (should be jam but I prefer marmite - DG has the little portions of jam for his sandwich lunches at school).
Not the most adventurous of menus, I guess, but it all looks tasty.

Monday, 26 April 2010

Monday morning

My sideboard looks like a florist's shop at the moment. It's very cheering; I love getting flowers and these are beautiful.
I recall earlier days when I was married and before children came along to wreck delightful havoc in the home. Ex and Late was a doctor. At some point he was doing his stint in A&E. Sometimes - quite often, in fact - they would hold funeral/memorial services in the hospital chapel. Flowers would often be sent. They needed to be cleared each time for the next service, so the staff often got asked to take them. E a L often came home with the most beautiful arrangements which were such good quality they sometimes lasted for weeks.
I'm not particularly 'keen' on flowers at a funeral. It seems to me a lot more productive, not to mention sensible, to make donations to a cause. However, I can also understand that 'sensible' is not necessarily the prevailing emotion at the time: people may want to make one last open gesture for the one they have lost and, perhaps, would be pleased to know how much pleasure those flowers gave for, sometimes, several weeks into the future. I called them Funeral Flowers, obviously, and they were invariably lovely!

And so the week starts. Twenty three more teaching days before half term (five weeks minus a bank holiday and an INSET day) and the reports countdown has begun! Liz has already started counting the 'last things' before she retires at the end of the term. Last early morning duty last week was one of them - which reminds me, it's my turn this week! Tuesday will be the last ever 'Meet the Teacher' meeting after school. Thursday will be the last ever 'look after Years 5 and 6 during their 'Meet the Teacher' meeting'.

I've committed to Bodychef for the whole of May! It seemed sensible, seeing as I've just been paid and have some money left over at the end of the month for once. So that's cut my need to shop down considerably!
So today it's the following:
Brekkie: Grapefruit and orange salad and a yogurt
Lunch: Tuna and sweetcorn, a wrap and coleslaw
Dinner: Spicy chicken pasta followed by a sort of Eton mess with a meringue nest, some natural yogurt and some berry compote. I have some raspberries (part of the basket of goodies given to me on Saturday) which I may add to the yogurt too
Snacks are walnuts, Brazil nuts and a pear
Sounds good, doesn't it?

Sunday, 25 April 2010

Sunday morning

To carry on the lavender theme, here's a tip.
I don't use the steam function on my iron much - I find that every now and again it throws a wobbly and sends out manky scaly stuff. Yes, I should clean it out and yes, I should use the proper water, but I've lost the instructions and don't remember how to. Anyway, I use one of those plant mister bottles from B&Q to spray the dry clothes when necessary and in the water I like to add a few drops of lavender oil. It only takes a few drops, but it smells lovely and makes the clothes smell good too. I read somewhere that someone always used a few drops of Chanel 5. Now there's an idea!!

The rest of yesterday was lazy and pleasant. It was obviously that sort of birthday because later on a friend turned up with an oval rush basket which was filled with healthy goodies - grapes, strawberries, raspberries, other fruit, some ready to eat dried fruit snack and under all that a mini bottle of wine and a tiny box of Thornton's choccies. All of that was covered by a bunch of flowers. Lucky me, thank you so very much, Lesley!
I'm afraid Bodychef went to the wall yesterday, what with the lunch, the choccies and the wine. But I don't care! Bandwagons and birthdays don't mix, but I'm back on it today!

Wasn't Doctor Who good? Goodness, the tension was unrelenting at times. I can't wait until next week. I think we should all be worried - after all, we've all looked a Weeping Angel in the eyes at some point!

And then up to bed to sleep under a pretty, new quilt cover. What a lovely day!

On to Sunday: a nice day's eating.
Breakfast: Muffin (the English variety) and fruit
Dinner: Beef goulash with cauliflower, potatoes and a yogurt and mint dressing for the potatoes, followed by summer fruit crumble.
Tea: Chicken paste, pitta bread, salad and then fruit again. I have a lot of fruit to eat but I'm sure DD and DG will help me when they come for Sunday Tea as usual. Maybe I should knock up a fruit salad - yes, I think I will.
Annabeth, the fruit is an extra as there's very little built into today's menu and also it needs eating.

Photo: An edit of one of the dandelion flowers - it looks a bit like a splash of yellow paint!
Edited to add - I'm just off to have a lavender foam bath - lovely!

Saturday, 24 April 2010

All embracing present

A few weeks ago I sort of casually suggested to DD that *if* she was going to get a birthday pressie and *if* she wasn't sure what to get, something lavender-ish would be most acceptable.

Today I was presented with a rush 'hamper' with the following, each one individually wrapped, inside:

Lavender antibacterial wipes
Lavender washing up liquid
Lavender scented room candle
Lavender all purpose surface cleaner
Airwick lavender room scent thingy
Lavender furniture polish
Lavender bath foam
Lavender shower gel
Lavender hand wash
Lavender cologne stick
Lavender soap
Lavender body spray

I think this must be a strong contender for the 'Most Useful Present Ever' award!

Golden sunshine . . .

. . . in my garden, unfortunately! They make a nice photo though.

Saturday morning

. . . and for once I'm taking it nice and easy. A shame about the early awakening, but since then I've been pottering about catching up with the washing, getting a bit of damp ironing done (e.g. the hankies, tea towels, etc) and generally getting the kitchen into it's weekend state. Nothing too hassling.

We (years 1 and 2) had catch-up PPA time this week, for which we were all extremely grateful, as providing cover for absent teachers was the priority and the usual PPA was halved. However, staff meeting was cut in lieu of the missing time, so I think people were pleased with that.
As a result of that catch-up time, Liz and I got all the planning for next week done and dusted, and also managed to sort out some resources too. So my conscience is absolutely clear and I can enjoy the day.

I hope you do too!

Friday, 23 April 2010

When on a diet . . .

. . . one can get a little obsessive about food. Well, I can anyway, and it's been my downfall on many an occasion. And when I'm deprived of food that is rightfully mine, feet can stamp and rattles can fly out of highchairs - internally, anyway!

Today I was pleased that lunch was a ham, cheese and pickle sandwich with cherry tomatoes and then a yogurt. I love ham, cheese and pickle! I made the sandwich up oh so carefully, wrapped it well and tucked it away in my bad together with the yogurt and tomatoes.
Come 12:00, I beetled over to my bag and . . . no sandwich. The tomatoes were there, the yogurt was there (and very nice they were too) but no sandwich. Cursing myself for leaving at home, I made do with yogurt and tomatoes and promised myself I would eat it at home as a snack after school.
Home I came - but no sandwich. I have no idea where that blessed sandwich has got to, no idea at all. I suppose my nose will tell me in due course though.

I suppose it's poetic justice really. DD, DG, DS and partner are meeting me down the Flyer for lunch tomorrow for a little birthday celebration. Looks like I've paid back in advance.
Ho hum!!!

Thursday, 22 April 2010

Thursday evening . . .

. . . and the time is just speeding past! One more day and it's the weekend yet again.

Today was another lovely day. I keep reminding myself to relish and appreciate each lovely day this year. Sandwiched between last year's pretty challenging class and next year's even more challenging class, I really need to make the most of the moments as they fly this year.
It was one of those little golden moments this afternoon. The weather has been glorious and we got out for out games lesson for the first time in weeks and weeks. It was bats and balls and the children were enjoying themselves so much, doing so well, that I just stood watching them for a while with a warm, happy feeling wafting over me. Nothing special, just one of those little perfect, golden times.
To finish it off nicely, the Bodychef meal this evening is savoury crumble, broccoli and cabbage followed by a rather titchy cube of sticky toffee pud: some of my favourite foods there. There's a tiny little carton of cream but I'm going to make some low fat custard - just a little bit - instead.

But to bring me down to earth with a bang - must get going on those reports!!

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Wednesday evening

And another good day.
Best news first - one of our teachers was stuck in Moscow airport - actually stuck in as the plane landed there either as a stop or because it was grounded. As she had no visa or anything, she had to stay within the airport itself. Apparently it was dire. However, she's home now and we now look forward to hearing that all the others are also safely home.

Another piece of good news - I have a new boy who has settled in to the manner born. A lovely laddie who tries hard, gets on well with the others and seems happy enough. No particularly awkward corners as far as I can tell. It can be difficult for a child coming into an established community, so I'm glad this seems to be going well.

And thirdly, I installed and tried out a new piece of hardware today - a visualiser. It picks up images and transmits them to the PC and thus onto the interactive white board. It zooms in and out, takes videos and photos, places images straight into Smart Board and is generally a very useful piece of equipment. I will be using it tomorrow to show the children close large views of how the cress seeds are growing - a bit like using a magnifying glass but everyone can see it at once. I can see Liz and I will be arguing over who has it first! :0)

And as for Bodychef, still yummy although I'm feeling pretty hungry now. Dinners cooking so not long to wait. Two days down!

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Tuesday morning

So sorry about yesterday. In the morning I didn't have anything to write about really and by the evening I was so tired I had an early night.

Yesterday was interesting. It turned out that we have four teaching staff stuck elsewhere (out of a teaching staff on 14) so Faith was commandeered to take one of the classes for the week. I thought that meant no PPA and no SEN time, but they've sorted something out - reduced for everyone, but much better than nothing! We had an 'emergency' staff meeting after school to discuss it, reorganise duties, etc, then an 'emergency' senior management meeting after that. And there was me hoping to get home a bit earlier than usual, having worked through lunch time to get my marking done. Ho hum!
I don't know how things are going to work out if our missing colleagues can't get home this week though. It's costing the school a horrendous amount to provide four supply covers and , if we had to continue for long, it would pretty well wipe us out. The budget is perfectly adequate nowadays, but certainly does not allow for emergencies like this. Of course, Easter is the time when teachers go away: the weather is better and it's a lot cheaper than the summer.
The LEA were most helpful (not) when the head phoned. They suggested we stop paying the missing teachers! Wonderful. Not only do they have a lot of extra expense that they couldn't possibly have budgeted for, we also stop paying them so they can't pay for this extra outlay! How helpful!
I wonder how many schools across the country are affected like this and how severely!

On a brighter note, the Bodychef stuff arrived yesterday evening. Very exciting! As well packed as I remember from before and it all looks fresh and delicious - I've never seen such a huge apple! It's supposed to click in this evening but, as it was delivered yesterday evening and the next hamper will come Thursday evening, the Friday meals will be fine for today. So that's bran flakes and dried fruit for brekkie, tuna tortilla wrap with a salad and then a kiwi fruit for lunch and chicken fricassee with carrots and new potatoes followed by a trifle for dinner. Snacks are a pear (or an apple if the pear isn't ready yet), sunflower seeds and cashew nuts.
The only problem is the kiwi - they seem to upset my tum and I should have said when I ordered because they would have substituted quite happily. I'll have an apple instead.
And all those useful plastic containers - they're wonderful!

Today is SEN day and I count myself lucky to have the morning. Sheila and I usually both have the day out but as Faith is teaching another class, I thought I wouldn't get it. However, S and I are sharing her usual cover so I'm having the morning and she's having the afternoon. I'm so pleased - there's some Annual Review paperwork to write and this is usually my job. I'm sure Sheila would have done it, but she didn't look too sure when I mentioned it to her yesterday and I think she was pleased to hand the job back again.

Sunday, 18 April 2010

Sunday evening

Strawberry souffle: hmm, not convinced . . . bit of a waste of a good sauce really. Next time I will use gelatine and egg white and turn it into a mousse, I think.

Vegetable flan (or quiche as they call it nowadays): Mmmmm - absolutely gorgeous. Well, it would be wouldn't it, made with double cream? What thrilled me most was that somehow I finally seem to have acquired the knack of making reasonable shortcrust pastry. About time too! A repeat performance is definitely on the list for the summer family get together. That menu is looking increasingly appetising.

The fridge is looking strangely bare now that DD has taken most of the fresh stuff away with her. There's some salad for tomorrow, some roast chicken left over from dinner today which will provide me with lunch and dinner tomorrow, some milk, some yogurt and some fruit - and that's about it really. I decided to go with the 1200 menu and provide my own fruit, etc, for mid morning and end of school, which should take it up to about 1500, which is quite low enough to start with.
A fresh start for a fresh term.

I made another payment towards the Streele Farm holiday today. I don't have all that much to pay now, and it makes it all seem much closer than it really is. Exciting stuff.

Sunday morning and the last day of freedom for a while

The sun's shining after a slight frost overnight, it's not that warm but it's very pleasant. This week has been glorious. Where was the bad weather we were supposed to have?

Today is food sorting day as I said yesterday. DD is very willing to take my remaining stuff that I won't need and when they come round I'm making vegetable quiche (should use up plenty of the veg, not to mention eggs and the cream left over from Friday evening) with salad and home made coleslaw. Dinner is roast chicken, with the left over meat providing lunch and dinner tomorrow as well. Ironically, I need to get a small amount of cheddar for the quiche as I don't have any. Luckily, one can buy any specific amount at the cheese counter and I shall take the opportunity to spoil myself with a Sunday paper.

What I didn't do yesterday was try to make a strawberry souffle, being too full up after the sausages. So today's the day. I've made the 'sauce, simply by mixing an egg into the coulis and doing the microwave curd technique - 20 seconds and stir. So after the first course is finished it's a quick folding in of beaten egg whites and into a hot oven for a blast! Fingers crossed - it's typically me that the first time I make something like this, it's a made up recipe.

Well, I'd better got on with stuff then - have a good day!

Saturday, 17 April 2010

Saturday afternoon

And here I am, back home, feeling pretty pleased after some good hard work sorting out the classroom. The new windows are lovely - four open (instead or two formerly) and we should have no problems with condensation.

Everything's ready now. All the work for the first day is done, copied, ready. The old work is down and the boards are ready for the new work. I'm especially pleased with the big board where I've gone a bit creative - as the photo shows. Bright but also calming. And now it's all done I really can rest and relax with a clear conscience.

Saturday morning

We really did have a lovely evening yesterday - lots of chat, gossip, laughter and good food.
Lesley did a started of ciabatta with soft cheese and smoked salmon, with olives, etc on the side. Yum. Then Jackie did frankfurter stew, which was a lot nicer than it sounds - a tasty tomato and vegetable based sauce with chunks of frankfurter sausage on pasta. And then I did the cheesecake, of course. All washed down with moderate amounts of alcohol - honestly, we were very moderate! :0) The prevailing theme was rather obviously 'pink'. Pink salmon, pink tomato sauce and pink fruit and sauce on the cheesecake. I even had some sparkly pink rose, but we didn't open that!
So another successful FMC and another recipe for the 'useful and easy' list.

Moving on to today, there's a bit of washing which needs doing, the house is reasonably tidy - as tidy as it ever is anyway, but I need to go into school and get my classroom ready for Monday. That's the biggie today.

As for food, I had toast with Jackie (who stayed overnight because of drink and driving), lunch I'm not sure about but will likely be cheese, olive and cracker based as I have some left over. Dinner will be sausages with that nice onion gravy and veg.

Because I'm starting Bodychef on Tuesday, I have to work to use up all the perishables I have in the fridge. The whole point of this system is that you don't need to provide anything, apart from any drinks and milk. Alcohol is discouraged (shame). So I have fruit, veg, cheese, etc, all needing to be dealt with. Hopefully, DD will take some stuff when she comes for Sunday tea and some can be frozen. It's not a problem, but it does need organising to minimise waste.

One thing in the fridge is some strawberry and raspberry sauce - sorry, coulis - leftover from last night. It's very delicious and I don't want to throw it out. I could freeze it, but while trawling around among recipes on the Internet, I found one for strawberry souffle. Now I have never made a souffle in my life, so I reckon it's about time I started. So after the sausages, dessert will be strawberry souffle. Fingers crossed!

Friday, 16 April 2010

FMC 13 White chocolate cheesecake

So easy and very delicious.
It's the usual digestive and melted butter base and the top is made by melting white choc (really nice Green and Black white choccy with vanilla seeds in) and a little mascarpone until smooth, whisking in the rest of the mascarpone and then stirring in some double cream.
I used ring moulds to make individual cheesecakes - press in the base, chill, add the top and chill again to set. So easy and so yummy.
To go with it, I am making a mixture of strawberries, raspberries and grapes to pile on the top and I've also made a sauce (?coulis?) of strawberries, raspberries, lemon juice and icing sugar, zizzed together and pushed through a sieve to get rid of the hard bits. I might get some raspberry liqueur to add as well - Morrisons sell it in little bottles.
No photo yet as it's still in the making but I think it's going to be another to add to my collection of Really Good Recipes.

Thursday, 15 April 2010

F M C 12: Five spice pork with cashews

And how I have enjoyed it. Absolutely delicious.

I can't give exact amounts and so on because of copyright and as it's in the May edition of Olive, there's no link yet, but I think I can say the following.

The recipe asked for lean pork chop. I got some pork fillet, partly because I like it and partly because Morrisons had some lovely looking fillet on their fresh meat counter, whereas the chops didn't look that amazing. I sliced it and sprinkled over five spice powder and seasonings. Then it was fried in oil (groundnut) after which I added chilli, spring onion, sugar snap and baby corn, all cur into chunks - oh, and some yellow pepper. After stir frying, I was supposed to add soy sauce and sesame oil but, as I didn't have sesame oil, I sprinkled over sesame seeds and used pumpkin oil.

And it was delicious.

F M C 12 and 13

I think it's 12 and 13 anyway.
After saying that I wouldn't do any more for a while, I opened Olive magazine and two recipes jumped up and slapped me round the face - oh, yes they did!
I was going to do the Raymond Blanc chocolate mousse tomorrow evening, but I have found a lovely looking white chocolate cheesecake, packed full of naughty things like white chocolate (surprise!!), mascarpone, double cream . . . mmmmm. Oh, and lots of soft fruit over it too and, as any fule kno, the good soft fruit cancels out the naughty cream, etc, so the calories don't count!
Then I read further and found a recipe for pork with five spice and cashews which also looks rather good and which I am going to do tonight for myself. I might even treat myself to a little glass of something to have with it.

Sounds good, doesn't it?

Thursday morning

Another day of doing 'stuff'. More cleaning, sorting (linen cupboard today), tidying, a bit of cooking, a bit of shopping for things I forgot to put on my list (Morrisons is just too darn convenient: it leads to carelessness) and getting ready for tomorrow evening when Jackie and Lesley are coming round for a meal. We're doing it the sharing way - Lesley is bringing the starter and nibbles, Jackie is bringing the main course and I'm doing dessert. Lots of giggles and chat and catching up. Should be great fun and I'm looking forward to it very much.

I was hunting through my collection of recipes for the particular one I want to do tomorrow (Raymond Blanc's chocolate mousse) when I found another recipe which I used to make and which is lower calorie. It's also actually quite nice and I shall make it for dinner tonight.
You need 1/3 of a sachet of sugar free orange jelly crystals, 60ml boiling water, 40g low fat natural yogurt (I use 0% Total), some Options (or other) choccy orange drink powder and some mandarin segments, some chopped into bits and a few to garnish.
Firstly you make up the jelly with the boiling water, stir well and leave to cool and just start to set. If you put it in the fridge, it takes under an hour.
In a large bowl (because it splashes), whisk the just setting jelly, the yogurt and the orange drink powder on high until smooth and airy and about twice the original volume. Stir in the orange bits, pour into a dessert dish and chill until well set. Garnish with the remaining orange segments and you could add some curls of chocolate, etc.
This works with various combinations of jelly and choccy drink. Lemon or strawberry and white choccy is nice, or use a flavoured yogurt.

For the rest, it's Smoked peppered mackerel and tomatoes for breakfast, ham salad for lunch and something stir fry-ish fry for dinner, with the mousse for afters.

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

Really tasty soup

This was what I made for lunch today and it's delish.

spray about 1 tsp (maybe a little less) olive oil into a pan and heat.
Finely chop a shallot, half a medium carrot and 1 celery stick (from a small hand). Add to the oil and simmer until softening. Stir in some garlic puree and chilli puree to taste - a bit of spice goes well.
Put in a sort of handful of red lentils and a small can or half a larger can of chopped tomatoes and stir well. Add 1 tsp marigold bouillon powder (I used the low sodium kind) and some water. I put plenty of water in because the lid to the pan broke ages ago and I didn't want it to boil dry. Finally, add some black pepper and a very little salt, bring to the boil and simmer until all the vegetables are soft and the lentils are cooked.
When cooked, blend smooth. I then pushed it through a sieve because the tomatoes had been cheap and there were some pips in which spoilt the texture.
Finally add some sun dried tomato puree and some ordinary tomato puree - a squidge of each! Taste and re-season if necessary. Finally, reheat to just under boiling and serve.

It's very tasty and filling and accounts for at least of your five a day, by the time you've counted the vegetables and the chopped tomatoes.

Wednesday morning

How on earth can it be Wednesday already? Wednesday in the second week too. Incredible!!

Today is busy. I'm looking after DG this morning while DD goes out. Then it's straight back home and into the work I should have done yesterday but didn't! If there's time, I would like to get to Matalan to get some food containers, but it's no problem if I don't. The other thing is to get the living room sorted (it's not too bad at the moment), dusted and swept.

On the food front, I've just had scrambled egg and mushrooms on toast, lunch is simmering on the hob as I type (tomato and lentil soup) and dinner will be smoked Vietnamese cobbler with, probably, a salad, including potato salad and coleslaw with fruit salad afterwards. Snacks are likely to be fruit and tune on crispbread - probably!

I was intrigued by a mention of something called sassy water on the Bodychef site. It's not a term I have come across (I know - where have I been?). On googling it, I found that it's basically water with some stuff added - mint, ginger, cucumber and lemon are the ingredients I remember. I had a glass of fizzy water with lemon slices in front of me so I pootled off into the kitchen to add some mint sprigs and cucumber. I liked the effect of the mint but not the cucumber so much. Anyway, as I'm trying to drink more water, it seems a nice enough way to take it so from now on I'll try to remember to add lemon and mint and maybe some grated root ginger. I don't think I'll be bothered with the cucumber.

I must get going - have a good day, everyone.

Tuesday, 13 April 2010

Good intentions

Well, you know how the saying goes. And you remember how jolly keen I was to get on with sorting out my bedroom. I'm sure you will be shocked to read that it didn't get done - horrified, even!

I blame DD. She came over with a load of washing so, of course, I had to invite her to stay for lunch and I had to chat to her and we had to go shopping together . . . you know how it goes!

Maybe tomorrow . . .

The eating has gone OK though. I stuck to my plan and DD and DG had to co-operate! Egg salad for lunch and salmon for dinner. Yum!

Tuesday morning

. . . and I'm feeling a bit more cheerful today, thank goodness. Amazing what taking a bit of action can do. What with sorting out the kitchen, getting a whole pile of ironing done and taking some action on the weight situation, not to mention a new fluffy-puffy quilt on my bed, I felt I'd had a useful day. Maybe part of the problem was that last week was rather aimless. I didn't do very much or achieve very much. After six weeks at school, busy and active, maybe the contrast was just too much.

Yesterday late afternoon I got a phone call frome Jayne, who owns BodyChef. It seems that I am in the right area for evening delivery if I want. So instead of the hampers being delivered on Tuesdays and Fridays during the day at some point, they will be delivered on Monday and Thursday evenings, which really does suit me a whole lot better. Also the boxes and ice blocks are now returnable, which is excellent.
I know I said I would have one week on and one doing my own thing but, on reflection, I think I'll commit a month solely to Bodychef (apart from a weekend when I am visitng my parents) and then go onto the on/off. There's some bad habits that need changing and this will be an ideal opportunity to deal with them, get the portion size expectations re-educated and generally get into the swing of things. I've checked my savings and I can manage it for that time.

So, today! I've had brekkie (bacon and tomato, yum yum) and tidied the kitchen. There's more ironing and the big task for today is (check file) - oh, yuck, tidying my bedroom, aka The Dumping Ground. It's not yet really recovered from Christmas, when I had such a crowd in. It so needs to be done and I've been putting it off for weeks. Wish me luck. I may be gone some time.

Now, where did I put those bin liners?

Photo: At the end of term, Faith, who is my regular supply for PPA and SEN time, gave me a plant. A succulant (I think) with lots of promising buds on the ends of the 'leaves'. They are now opening and it's beautiful.

Monday, 12 April 2010

Monday evening

Not such a bad day, all found. I got loads of ironing done, the kitchen sorted out, more or less, some washing done (so more ironing once it's all dried) and a sensible day's eating. And now it's time for bed and I'm hoping I won't be waking at three in the morning this time.

Sleep well!

Pondering (boring so don't feel you have to read)

It's a funny old thing, trying to lose weight. You'd think it would be easy - the science is all sorted out for you. eat less than your body needs and the weight will fall off as your body uses up stored energy. Simple - right? Er - well, no, actually. I wish it was.
So why, oh, why does it all get so complicated? Why does it all go so horribly wrong most of the time? Why can't/don't I stick to what I know works? Why do I go to the opposite extreme and the weight just piles on? Yes, I know - I eat too much and of the 'wrong' kind of food. But why? I like 'good' food, but trough on fatty rubbish. What is it in me that makes me so very self destructive at times?

I'm not a terribly sociably inclined person - by that I don't mean I'm not sociable, just that crowds and gatherings are quite daunting for me and not much fun. I've tried clubs. No thanks. Exercise is good, but at my size it's not really all that straightforward. I must start something but I'll have to take it carefully.

I NEED to get something sorted. When I know what it is, it will be easier, I think. But right now it's going to have to be one step at a time - because if I don't start moving, I can feel a big black cloud hovering, ready to swoop and swamp me. And if at least some of this excess fat doesn't come off, I will have a very painful, lethargic, boring old age, because I will be too unfit and heavy to enjoy life very much. I'm not enjoying it very much at times now and it will get worse if something doesn't cut across it.

Bodychef is the strategy, but I'm not daft enough to believe that it has all the answers. They have to come from within and I'm not sure where they are right at the moment. Some inner searching is on the cards, I guess. Wish me Good Hunting! I need it.

Monday morning

I was up so early this morning - around three, would you believe? Wide awake and raring to go, so I came down and got on with stuff. I caught up on emails, sliced a loaf I baked yesterday ready for the freezer, sorted out some mess and then started to attack the top shelf of my food cupboards. I'm almost ashamed to admit that there was some awfully old stuff there - four years ago stuff (and it would have been longer, I'm sure, had I not had an extension and a new kitchen four years ago). Almost ashamed but not totally because I know that all but the utterly and disgracefully efficient have experienced exactly the same - I am in good company here! The bins are emptied today - good timing indeed!

I'm resting the F M C for a little while. I need to get back to the healthy eating and to do so, as a start-off, I am using a resource I have used before - the Bodychef method. Basically, it provides you with 'hampers' of proper ready made meals: breakfast, lunch and dinner, all calorie counted and balanced for you. It's not cheap, but neither is it dreadfully expensive. There's no gimmicks, faddy stuff or weird ingredients, just tasty meals. Yes, I will spend more, but not as much more as at first seems, as I won't be buying all those little extras that mount up so alarmingly.

Anyway, I'm giving it a go as we will see. I will have one week on Bodychef, one week doing it myself, first delivery Tuesday next week. Fingers crossed for me!

Photo: When we broke up, one of my children gave me a bunch of flowers for Easter. Over a week later the flowers still look wonderful and here's a photo, taken yesterday, to prove it!

Saturday, 10 April 2010

Saturday afternoon later on

This morning I had a wander around with my camera again and was quite pleased with what I found. I hope you like them too.

Believe it or not, in a couple of months time this will be a beautiful buddleia, attracting butterflies from miles around.

This beauty was in a vase today, though originally in the garden.

This gentleman goes by the name of Dugless! Oh, OK, Mum, Douglas! A very handsome and well made character.

Saturday afternoon

Just home from a very interesting visit to the Hitchin British Schools Museum. I can see that I will need to go again; there was so much to look at, take on, appreciate. The staff (mostly volunteers, I believe) were incredibly friendly and helpful and I had a little giggle over the advice in their museum guide instruction book - 'teachers tend to ask many questions', it said! Well, I certainly did!

It's another glorious day, almost warm really. The sun is shining and everything seems to be growing furiously! Long may it continue.

Photo: The monitorial system was Quaker 'based' and so corporal punishment wasn't used. However, fear and humiliation was and I was horrified to read that for serious situations the child was placed in an iron cage and hoisted up above the heads of the other pupils. What it didn't say was how long he was left there! It makes the labels round the neck strategy seem very humane in comparison. The labels, obviously, aren't original, but the sentiments expressed on them are!

Friday, 9 April 2010

Friday afternoon

. . . and I'm having an extremely lazy time here in Letchworth with my parents. Very little in the way of 'productive' work has been done, unless you count helping to eat Mum's delicious vegetarian sausage rolls (thank you, Delia, excellent recipe there) or meandering in the garden taking photos now and again.
This evening, Mum is cooking what she says is some very tasty venison fillet with her patent tasty gravy to go with it. I'm sure there will be a good red to drink with it and there's some very nice Stilton and Camembert to have for afters.

Tomorrow Mum is out most of the day (it's the 100th day of the 100th year of Guiding, I believe, and they are celebrating) so Dad and I are going to see the British Schools Museum in Hitchin. I'm very much looking forward to it - it looks fascinating as you can see if you click here. Then in the evening we're out for a Chinese.

I could get used to this life, I really could!

Photos: Some of the results of my garden meanders.

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

Wednesday afternoon

Since starting to use Blipfoto, I've been trying to take some photos everyday (not always succeeding) and thus find I have to make choices. So here's today's efforts!

PS I chose the first one. Flowers in the rain.

Tuesday, 6 April 2010

A lovely sunny Tuesday afternoon

. . . so I meandered through the back gate to take some photos over the fields. Here's a few.
Looking over into the country . . .

Looking up into the sky. . .

This makes me feel that I'm being watched . . .

And then back in the garden:
I didn't realise I had any of these. Spanish, unfortunately, but still very pretty. Just the one and goodness knows where it's come from.

And something promising from my Mother's Day pressie from DD. I like the effect of the shadow.
Must get some straw ready.

Monday, 5 April 2010

Oh, dear

No IKEA tomorrow. Poor DD is not well, with aches, pains, sort throat and general unwell-ness. DG was somewhat snuffly and subdued yesterday so I hope he's not going down with it as well.

I thought I was going down with something on Saturday - sore throat, snuffles, etc, but it's not developed, thank goodness. As any fule kno, being ill in holiday time is written into teachers' contracts and therefore is bound to happen. What's gone wrong?

Stay safe DD, and take care. Get well soon.

Photo - those spring leaves artified!

Bank Holiday Monday

Yesterday was a pretty gentle day, one way and another, so much so that I fell asleep while DD and DG were here. Oh, dear, sure sign of getting old, I reckon.

Today isn't likely to be all that different. I don't intend to go out, just to potter indoors and have a gentle and lazy time. This time last week, I was rushing around at school. Tomorrow we intend to go to IKEA and that will be tiring, it always is! And I MUST remember to book the car in for an MOT.

Photo: Leaves in the garden.

Sunday, 4 April 2010

Pork burgers

I had some pork fillet left over from the other day. I wanted pork mince for Maggie's Chinese recipe but Morrisons didn't have any so I bought fillet and minced it in my mini-chopper. I needed to use the other half of it today but had planned for lamb up so I tried this.

I minced the pork in the chopper, then put it in a bowl. Then I zizzed some red onion, spring onions and red pepper and added it to the pork. Then I put in some garlic puree, chilli puree (I'd have preferred a fresh red chilli but didn't have one), some lemon juice (didn't have any limes and the bottled juice I had was so out of date it went straight in the bin), some dried coriander (no fresh), some soy sauce, some sea salt and some black pepper. I mixed it all together and then formed it into burgers, using my useful burger press, which I've had for ages and is very useful on occasions.
It made six burgers, five of which I shall be freezing and one which I cooked to taste. It was very tasty, although fresh chilli, lime and fresh coriander would have been better, I think.

Thought I'd share that.

Sunday morning

Yes, it really is Sunday and feels like it too. The days have sorted themselves out now!

Today is likely to be a lazy day. DD and DG will be over for tea as usual and I have a little something in the form of a choccy egg for DG, with some spending dosh for the holiday. The sort of thing Grandmas are for, in fact!
I might manage to do some moving stuff about as well, depending on the weather, but I'm not betting on it. Oh, and I need to get DDs washing finished. I suspect she will be bringing another load over when she comes. I can't believe how many clothes she has; I'm sure I never had anything like as many.

Have a good day, everyone. May it be full of hope and life.

Edited to add a photo. Such a pretty pink.

Saturday, 3 April 2010

Saturday evening and two more down.

Two FMCs, I mean. The mushroom stroganoff was OK, nice enough in its own way but nothing to get excited about. A bit ordinary really. I doubt I will do it again as I have a much better one that I use.
The fat free fruit loaf tastes pretty good and, I think, is the sort of thing that will improve over the next few days. Sweet and spicy and very moreish.

I had a visit from DD and DG this afternoon. DD's washing machine is on the blink and several bags of washing have found their way over here. Two loads down and, probably, two more to go! Washing is one of those thankless tasks - not only do you have to keep doing it, but also, when it's done, you have to iron as well. Such ingratitude!

What did you think of the new Doctor Who? Now, don't tell me you didn't watch it - it was a statutory requirement!! I was prepared to reserve judgement on the new Doctor, but I don't think I need to - I thought he was very, very good and I'm looking forward to next week's episode!

Saturday and FMC10 and 11 (I think)

Yesterday felt like Saturday so now feels like Sunday. I'm not used to having an extra day tacked on to a half term; it's usually a training day.

At some point I have to go into my classroom. The windows are all being replaced so all the stuff that is usually kept under and on the bench by the window had to be moved away. Also, there's stuff you can't do while the children are around, such as putting up the new backing paper, etc. I didn't have my TA as she was unwell (hope you're feeling better now, P) which didn't help at all. There's two weeks to get that done though, so no problems whatsoever. I'm hoping to create a sort of Jack and the Beanstalk picture, with a 3D beanstalk rising to the sky . . .

I had a lovely meal last night. If you look at Maggie's blog, she describes a Chinese recipe which I made with some success last night. It's just a classic stir fry really, using pork mince, vegetables, a sauce and noodles. I couldn't get minced pork, so I bought some loin and minced it myself in my mini chopper - and very nice it was too. The sauce was a mixture of sherry, stock (Marigold), hoisin sauce and soy sauce, with some chilli puree. It really was delicious!

I've finally got around to starting the F M Challenge again. I'm several weeks down now so do need to catch up. The one I'm doing today is from Good To Know Recipes and it's a 'fat free fruit loaf'. I already have a wonderful recipe for a tea loaf, but this has apricots as well as sultanas and looks really quite nice, so I'll give it a whirl. DD can take the remains with her tomorrow for DG to finish off.

I'm being very traditional and having lamb tomorrow for lunch: a leg steak (seeing as it's only me) with a mint and redcurrant sauce. So tonight is the other FMC recipe I had planned for this weekend. From the same magazine, it's a Creamy Mushroom Stroganoff - yum yum! And then on Monday I have a gammon joint to boil up, so that will give me some delicious stock to use for ham and lentil soup later on in the week. Yum yum again!

Friday, 2 April 2010

Friday morning

And, as it's not the weekend, I count the holiday officially started! Yessss.

I was so tired last night: I went to bed before eight, fully expecting to wake at two or three and be wide awake. I did indeed wake around then, but managed to go straight off to sleep again, thank goodness.
I wonder why it's more tiring on a day when we all do no work. Yesterday was lovely and I certainly didn't do much teaching. Nor were the children harder to keep sensible and calm. And yet, by four, I was dead on my feet!

I promised all my eager readers that after the wedding assembly for Jon and Lyndsey I would publish the superb verses the year 1 children read to them before presenting them with a lucky horse-shoe and a card. So, all you fortunate people, here it is! Remember, you saw it here first!

We have a lucky horse shoe
We made it just for you.
We hope it brings you lots of luck
And joy your whole life through

You can hang it from your ceiling
You can hang it on your wall
But fix it very carefully.
You don't want it to fall!

For if it falls your luck will spill
And wander far and wide.
The right way up it has to stay
To keep your luck inside.

So here's your special horse shoe
With love to both of you.
We wish you lots and lots of luck
And joy your whole life through!

Isn't it absolute drivel? We were driven to writing it because everything we found on the Internet was worse - far worse! Direr than dire! It's hard to believe there's so much daft stuff out there but, seeing as there is, we have contributed a bit more to it!

And now to decide what to do on the first day of the holiday. If I can get my act together (and depending on the weather), I might pop into town to see the Good Friday service in the town centre. Our school choir is taking part and I guess I ought to support them. I could also meander into the books shops and treat myself to some holiday reading. I haven't done that for simply ages. And I haven't posted on Blipfoto for three days because I haven't had time to take any photos. I need to remedy that!

Apart from that - no idea!! How nice!

Thursday, 1 April 2010

Thursday morning

One more day! That's all.
It should be fun today. There's a special assembly for Jon this morning: he's getting married on Saturday and each year group is 'doing' a little something and presenting him with a wedding based thing and a card.