Saturday, 31 July 2010

Joy's yogurt crackers, part 2

Also jolly nice with added Parmesan - or, in this case, the vegetarian equivalent of Parmesan! I'm going to have problems resisting the urge to nibble on them.

Mind you, the cheese was pretty hard so I tried to take a short cut and chop it in my mini chopper. Bad idea. I broke the chopper. Heigh ho, heigh ho, it's off to Morrisons I go . . .

Recipe: Joy's yogurt crackers

I made this recipe up after searching for a recipe for cream crackers and realising that the ones I could find were
a) too complicated or
b) too calorific.

I made them plain - just salt and pepper. I will make some more using herbs from the garden - sage, thyme or rosemary, and some more using the vegetarian version of Parmesan. I bet they will be nice - the plain ones certainly are . . .

Yogurt crackers

Ingredients: to make nine square crackers. 26 cals per cracker
50g SR flour
pinch salt
black pepper
Herbs/spices to own taste
6g butter, cut into small bits
1.5 tbsp (around 35-40g) low fat natural yogurt

Heat oven to about 180 C

To 50g SR flour, add salt, pepper, 6g chilled chopped butter. Rub in the butter and then mix in any herbs or spices.
Add 1.5 tbsp low fat natural yogurt (about 35-40g) and mix into a dough, first with a spoon and then with the hand.

Knead lightly on a floured board, then roll out as thinly as possible. Cut out shapes (I used a square cutter), place on a non stick tray or sheet, prick all over with a fork. I re-rolled twice to use up the trimmings and got nine crackers from this amount.

Bake for 5 mins, then turn them over.
Bake for another 5 mins
By then they should be cooked and starting to go golden brown in patches – that’s just what you want.
Remove from the oven, sprinkle with sea salt and cool on a cooling tray. Store in a tight lidded container.
I have no idea how long they will keep or whether they will freeze. I suspect ‘no’ to the latter.

Saturday morning

I really got caught out last night! The soil was so dry I decided to give the beds at the back a jolly good watering (the front has to fend for itself). Having done that (it took ages), I came in and settled in from of the PC. One of the disadvantages (and advantages) of being an old deffie is that one doesn't always catch environmental sounds. As a result, later on I went to close the French window prior to going to bed to find that the carpet there was wet! It had been raining and pretty hard too, by the looks of it. And it's started raining again. I really cannot complain; the soil does need a more prolonged soaking than I can properly give it and I really should have known. Last time I gave the beds a thorough watering it rained shortly afterwards too.

I'm going out yet again today. Not content with having lunch at the Flyer with Lara yesterday, today I have been invited to have lunch at Izumi, a Chinese buffet restaurant, with the family I mentioned in earlier blogs, that is moving away from the area soon. I was asked if I would like to go with them a while ago and regretfully declined the invite as their little lad was in my class and it didn't feel entirely 'professional'. However, it's quite different now and I was delighted to accept. It's in Maldon, so a pleasant drive to get there and back again.

Apart from that, I really do have to work on getting the template for the new theme planning created, both for me and for Lara (they will be slightly different, of course, just to make life awkward). And I have just uttered something naughty on remembering that I have left the first week's planning at school. Hopefully I can find it on my own PC - it ought to be there, somewhere. And I need to look at my menu for next weekend and see what I can make in advance. There's already a box of choc cookies in the freezer (out of temptation's way). I will make some more oatcakes (probably half quantities as I was to experiment a bit) and I wonder if there's a recipe for cream crackers anywhere . . .

Photo: from Dad's garden.

Friday, 30 July 2010

Friday afternoon

I've come over all virtuous. Having spent some time in school with Lara, talking planning, assessment, APP, resources, blah, blah, blah, I can enjoy the weekend without any guilty feelings.

After that I popped over to Asda. They have unwired bras in sizes suitable for -cough - more stately ladies. I got one the other day and it's so comfy (and cheap) I went back for a couple more.

I also got some things for next weekend at the same time.

Photo: Guess what!

Friday morning

Yesterday was weird. The car went in for its full service and MOT accompanied by a list of niggles about it as long as your arm. At about 2:00 the garage phoned to tell me what needed doing and I phoned them at 4:30-ish to ask if it was ready, which it was - so why hadn't they phoned earlier to tell me? The niggles were mostly sorted out easily, the car failed on emissions (spelling?) so that was sorted, the engine sounds a lot healthier, the air con is now working . . . the only thing not sorted is the temperature gauge. For a while now the needle seems to go up to red very quickly and it's worrying. They agreed that it shouldn't be happening but said that the engine is definitely not overheating in any way (phew) and that the fan (or whatever it's called) is coming on appropriately so the problem is probably the dial. They're going to let me know how much it will cost to replace it and if it's reasonable then I will. I hate driving in stop-start traffic with one eye on that little patch of red, wondering if . . .

And now it's been road taxed too - very easy online - so all is fine, dandy and legal - legal is important for peace of mind. Expensive too, but as I was expecting it to be a lot more, it feels like I have spare cash. More for the holiday!!

Sitting in DDs house was the weird bit, worrying about the car and minding DG who really didn't need minding all that much most of the time, although sometimes he does and he can't be left alone. Yesterday he was very busy on his laptop and, apart from taking Theo out for his daily constitutional, that's what he did most of the morning. I'd have been maybe a bit concerned if I didn't know that he was out the day before and will be out today.
So there wasn't a lot to do but read (which was nice) and what with worrying, etc, by the time I got home I was feeling a bit vulnerable and had a food blip. The steak and chips would have been OK if it hadn't been for the red wine, the chocolate (which I don't normally eat much of, not being addicted to it) and the cashews (which I AM addicted to). Darn it!!!

To my disgust, DD has a new PC and it's faster and smoother than mine. This is NOT FAIR!!! Because of that, I had to reinstall FirstClass, which is an awful lot easier than it used to be. However, the spell checker was checking each and every word: I know there's something I have to do to link it to a word bank but I'm not sure what! Anyone reading this who know, please do tell me!

Photo - more of the same.

Thursday, 29 July 2010

Thursday evening

The car has been MOTed, road taxed and didn't cost anything like as much as I thought. Phew and YAYAYAYAY. That's it for another year!

Photo - a nice expressive photo from a certain parent's garden! Says it all really! :0)

Thursday morning

The car in going in for its MOT today. It works quite well because I'm looking after Alex this morning and the garage is within easy walking distance of Beth's flat. I'm rather dreading the cost though and have transferred a goodly sum over to my account, just in case.

That's about it really - apart from that the rest of the day is just normal (as normal as it ever is, I mean). Maybe I could go swimming? We will see!

Photo: Another from Dad's garden.

Wednesday, 28 July 2010

Wednesday later on in the morning.

I ought to be doing house work so what am I doing? Experimenting with a recipe, that's what. Well, it is holiday.

I wanted to make oatcakes. I love them but they are quite expensive and they're really just plain biscuits. I found a likely looking recipe (not too much fat) and hoped that oat bran would work the same as oatmeal - which it didn't. It refused to make a dough. So I added some wholewheat flour, strong flour as that's what came to hand. It made the dough, it rolled out, it baked. Fingers crossed. Lunchtime will be the test.

Now I'm off to the incomparable Weight Loss Resources site to work out the calories.

And I suppose that at some point I need to go into town to Holland and Barratt or the nice nut and seed shop near the market to find out what oatmeal is and get some. Or could I zizz some porridge oats down to a fine consistency, I wonder? Might try that next time.
Edited to add that, assuming 22 biscuits from the mixture, they are about 27 calories each which is pretty good. They taste OK too (I couldn't wait until lunchtime!)

Wednesday morning

. . . and I'm sat here at the computer, enjoying my breakfast and pondering over a not terribly productive yesterday. I did some shopping, lounged around, did some exercise, lounged around, made a few lists, got the sleeping arrangements for when the family come over sorted out and generally - er - lounged around! Holiday, hey?

So, today has to be housework, after exercise, bath, etc, and I MUST sort out how I am going to get the swimming in! Part of it is sheer nerves. Not having been for a while, and being as big as I still am, it takes a lot of courage and motivation.

So off I go to do an advanced cycle ride around the island, etc. :0)

Photo: From Dad's garden last weekend

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Tuesday morning, very early

Yes, it's way too early. Yes, I will be going back to bed as soon as I start feeling sleepy. I came down partly to take some pain killers as my back is aching badly between the shoulder blades. I do know why: yesterday I dried my hair using a different hairdryer and had to hold it at a very different angle and when I had finished, ouch!

Yesterday was a most satisfying day. I left for home and stopped off at Bickerdikes, just five minutes away from my parents' house. I had a jolly good wander around but didn't see any plants that took my fancy. In the shop, however, they had a lovely little barbecue, really only big enough for one or two people, three at a real push. It also wasn't in any way overly expensive. There was a choice of three different lid colours - black, blue and green. I went for the green to match the fence (!) but there weren't any boxed ones with green lids so the assistant let me take the display model ( which was perfect so, sadly, no money off). The big plus with that was that I don't have the fiddly task of assembling it.

So I got home (very easy, trouble free journey), made and ate lunch and then set to in the garden. The beds were bone dry so before I did any planting I gave them a jolly good watering. I cut back the sage, weeded, planted, re-watered, went round the front, cut back the lavender bush and decided that it might very well do one more year, tidied up all the trimmings (missed the brown bin collection, drat, drat, drat) and then watered the beds again, by which time it had started to rain anyway. The middle bed doesn't now look as good as it did a month ago, with the lavender gone and the sage cut back, but it will, once the geraniums, etc fill out.
I was going to dry the sage, but there's so much left in the garden there just doesn't seem to be any point really so all the cuttings ended up in the bin. Ditto for my own lavender - I really should have cut it just before the end of term and didn't have time then, so all of yesterday's trimmings got ditched.

Then it was back indoors where I spread out the lavender from Saturday and bunched and bagged it for drying. It's now all hanging from the towel rail in my bedroom for a fortnight. Then I put together the other barbecue, the one I got from Tescos on Sunday morning - kind of fiddly and, as usual, most inadequate instructions.
By then it was dinner time and the korma went down a treat!

So a lot achieved at the start of the holiday and today I need to tackle the house and restore it to something approaching a reasonable condition to match the garden.

And now the back is starting to ease off a bit, thank goodness! :0)
Photos: Other snaps taken at the lavender farm, apart from lavender fields. The one at the top is from the long strip of sunflowers that sat side by side with the lavender rows.
A close up! There are such wonderful patterns in nature, aren't there?
Inside the barn where we had a very refreshing cuppa - well three actually, as each of us had a pot of tea.
This beauty was for sale at the shop. No, I didn't buy him, but isn't he lovely?

Monday, 26 July 2010

Some photos

I've got round to uploading the weekend photos. Here's some from the lavender farm, Cadwell Farm.

Looking 'sideways' from the bottom of the hill.

The different shades are different varieties of lavender.
We were asked to cut from the side of the rows because the cutting machine cuts across the top.

There was plenty to cut.

Taken from the top of the hill, looking down to a wedding reception tipi at the bottom and then on over Hitchin (I think).
Rather a lovely place to have one's wedding photos taken.

Monday morning, very early

. . . because habits die hard.

Home this morning and then I have to make some choices. At the moment I think I will pootle straight home and set to work on the garden, weather permitting. The lavender will be bagged and hung up to dry and the house will be aired thoroughly. If I get everything on my list done, I will be very pleased indeed.

On the way home, I want to stop off at Bickerdikes. This is a rather good (not cheap though) garden centre close to Mum and Dad's and it's such a lovely place, it's a pleasure to meander around it. There's still a few gaps in the back garden beds, caused by the removal of the lavender and the perennial wallflowers, so I might get a few things, if I see anything. Not being anything like a proper gardener, it'll be rather pot luck.

I bought a couple of little Good Food cookery books yesterday. It's daft, because I have so many and really don't need any more, but when did 'need' come into purchases like that? There are some super recipes inside and when I have depleted the freezer, I will be cooking some of them, probably halving amounts and freezing one portion. Watch this space.

Just thought of something else I will be doing - uploading the photos I've taken! Then I can bore my gentle readers with view after view of lavender fields, etc.

Post script: I realised I'd posted this on the wrong blog and it's taken me ages to work out how to copy and paste it over here. Dad's settings aren't the same as mine - grrrr.

Sunday, 25 July 2010

Sunday evening . . .

. . . and it's been another very pleasant and relaxing day. This morning was spent meandering around the Baldock Tesco, a super big store, where I got sundry household things, a barbecue (needed for the family get together in a fortnight - ye gods, is that that soon) and - don't laugh now - a hula hoop! Well, it's brilliant exercise, I can do it indoors and I used to be really good at it. And it only cost a couple of pounds!! And (for Alison) it's pink and shiny!!!

The afternoon was spent with Dad, him showing me how to refill ink cartridges and where to get the refill kits from. Slightly messy at times but, on looking at the web site, I see they sell gloves. Having seen Dad in action I can understand why! Anyway, I'm going to try this. I get through such a lot of ink what with school stuff as well as personal stuff and to refill takes at most a couple of pounds.

We chatted about my hearing aids too. You might possibly remember that during half term my right aid just stopped working. Total panic until I found an old behind the ear analogue aid that worked once I'd bought a battery. Without my aids I am seriously isolated and it was a severe shock when one just 'went' so suddenly. Anyway, he has put me in touch with the company that provide him and Mum with their aids (it is a family disability, but Mum's is just age related) and I am hoping that before I go away on holiday something will be sorted. So kind.

I've posted in the other blog about the vegetables for dinner. Carrots, broad beans and runner beans, all of which were alive and kicking an hour ago. It's all smelling wonderful and I thank Dad for being such a wonderful gardener.

Home tomorrow morning, but it's been a good couple of days one way and another.
And - AND - it will be Monday and NO SCHOOL!! Can life hold more?

Sunday morning

Yesterday was one of those lovely, perfect days that happen occasionally. The mix has to be right - the circumstances have to be gently memorable but one has to be in the right place mentally and emotionally too. When all things come together, it's just beautiful. For me, yesterday was just such a day.

After pottering around the house doing this, that and the other, I managed to leave the house at the planned time (most unusual for me) and had a very easy journey up to Mum and Dad's. I knew we were going out somewhere after lunch but they refused to tell me where! After ten minutes drive in the car, Dad turned off the road and before us (my parents, Jacqui from next door and me) was a whole sea of purple and the air was filled with my favourite scent. A lavender farm! Near Hitchin. I had no idea such a thing existed. It's actually part of a much larger working farm and in recent years they have devoted some space to growing various kinds of lavender. You bring your scissors, you pay the entry fee and you snip, snip, snip your way up the hill and back down again, filling the bag that they give you when you pay. The views from the top of the hill were wonderful, it was warm and sunny but not baking hot and, despite the stony ground, my ankle held out and didn't turn over once (although it's somewhat stiff and achey now). Next to the lavender was a broad yellow stripe of sunflowers which are just coming into flower. Of course I was click, click, clicking with my camera and I think I might have taken a few good-ish shots but, stupidly, I left the card reader thingy at home, so can't upload anything today.
After we had picked our bagful, we went into the barn and had very welcome refreshment in the guise of a pot of tea each. Finally, I bought a couple of lavender plants and we went home.

I was well pleased with the plants. A couple of weeks ago, if you remember, I talked about taking the French lavender out of the flower bed it was in, as it had become too woody and lanky. I went to the garden centre to get a replacement but the only ones they had were in large pots and cost the earth, so I didn't bother. The other, just a bog-standard lavender, will go in a pot for now. I think I will take cuttings from the plant at the front as soon as I have harvested the flowers there (next week) and then replace that plant with the one I have just bought after that or maybe after next year, depending on how it looks after it's all been chopped back. Also I need to cut back the sage which grows next to the discarded lavender at the back so it looks as if tomorrow afternoon will need to be spent in the garden (so it's guaranteed to rain)!

I'm not quite sure what to do with the sage. I will have to cut loads and it's not a herb I use all that much - not as much as I'm going to cut anyway! I guess it will go into the freezer and I might have another go at drying a bit of it, giving it less time that I did the mint, which ended up a tasteless, scentless crumble of powder which had to be thrown away.

Anyway, back to yesterday. Home we went and shortly after that we set off for the local Chinese where we had a very delicious meal and a great natter.

So, although nothing exciting happened, it was just a very lovely day and one I will remember for a long time. A great start to the long holiday. If you're in the area at the right time of year it is well worth a visit.

Plenty of photos tomorrow and for the rest of this week!

Saturday, 24 July 2010

Saturday morning

I seem to have got away with it! Recently I've abandoned the 'weigh infrequently' rule because one can do a simple test on the Wii before training, so I do. I don't entirely trust the numbers - my own scales weigh heavier - but I do go with the overall trend and I've stayed the same, despite Thursday evening's little 'blip'. Phew. I always have the feeling that one evening's indulgence will result in my best puffer fish imitation for the next four or five days so it's a relief that the impact seems to be minimal.

When I arrived at Melbourne Park yesterday and walked towards the picnic group, what seemed like hundreds of children all yelled 'It's Mrs Clark' and tried to knock me off my feet. OK, slight exaggeration there: there were about four or five children from my class and maybe about eight from other classes and they all game running to give me a big hug. While it was lovely to feel so welcomed, it did mean that my arrival was most conspicuous!! Shame I was a bit late really!

For the remainder of the day I slept, did some washing and ironing, slept, watched rubbish TV, slept, did some Wii and then slept well all night. Typical for the start of a holiday; everything is punctuated by sleep.

This afternoon, Dad tells me that we're going out, somewhere local, nice cup of tea and cake involved (hopefully I can say no to the cake) and to make sure I have my credit card with me. I have no idea where, I guessed a garden party but no. Maybe it's a garden centre . . . that would be fun!
And then in the evening we're out to their local Chinese restaurant, a very nice place with delicious food. I think that restraint will be cast aside rather, just for that meal. Their Singapore rice noodles are to die for!
So that's today! Second day of the holiday.

Friday, 23 July 2010

Flowers and a very simple recipe

I managed to get the flowers sorted, as can be seen from the photos.
I was going to zizz some smoked salmon with some philly light to make a pate for the picnic. However, when I looked at the philly, it was well past its use by date and had gone off, so in the bin it went.
So instead I used a couple of dollops of the very low fat mayo, plus the smoked salmon trimmings, some black pepper and some lemon juice and zizzed it all together until it was smooth.

Friday morning . . .

. . . and the holiday has officially started. Five long weeks (plus a few days) of freedom. Five weeks to get the house sorted again, sort out the classroom, get going with the new planning and generally chill out. In all this hot weather I haven't really had the time to sit out in the garden and relax, so I am looking forward very much to doing that. It's going to be good, gentle reader, it's going to be fantastic.

So, what's on today?

Well, I do have to deal with the kitchen as a matter of urgency. It's at the point where I can't really get going with my breakfast because there's no room, what with the bunches of flowers sitting in containers waiting to be sorted and displayed. That will be done when I finish this. The final count was six of various sizes.

Then I will Wii for a while - I need to work off some of yesterday evening's indulgences. It was a super evening but I ate too much and drank a little more than I had intended. I feel OK, just a bit stuffed still. However, experience tells me that to not eat breakfast would be a disaster in the making to I'm ruling a line under it and today is a new day!

Then it's getting ready for lunch. A local family is moving and a friend is holding a surprise picnic in Melbourne park for them. All they know is that the two families are having a picnic. They don't know about the other. They also don't know about this blog or I wouldn't be writing about it now!! the little boy is in my class - was, I suppose, now, and I was pleased to be asked along.

After that I have a decision to make, depending on how I feel. I could go into town and look round Debenhams to see how I could spend my voucher. I could go swimming. I could (and this is most likely) come home again and have a kip! Decisions, decisions!

I can't quite believe it - five weeks . . . bliss!

Thursday, 22 July 2010


The school year is ended, all bar the retirement party for Liz tonight and some tidying up and sorting out during the holidays.
After yesterday's wonderful gesture from the parents, I was most taken aback to receive numerous little gifts from my children today - plants, candle, wine (quite a lot - yay) choccies (ooops, oh dear) and so on, plus cards with wonderful messages that show me that I haven't quite been a waste of space this year.

I'm going to type in what one mum wrote to me because it's just so kind and encouraging and, after all, this is my diary.

To Mrs Clark,
Thank you so much for being such a wonderful teacher for [child's name]. He has developed in so many areas this past year and I am proud of his academic achievements. Perhaps more importantly to me is how I have seen his confidence as a little boy grow. He is so secure and content in his school surroundings and this is down to you, so thank you for nurturing him and giving him the self-assurance that is growing all the time.
I hope you know how valued and treasured you are.
All my thanks.

And this, from a leaving year six lad who has been rather special to me ever since I had him in year 1.

Dear Mrs Clark
This year I have progressed extraordinarily in recorder because of the lessons you have given me. Thank you so much.
See you!

Now, while I am sure that I have taught him as well as I am able, the above isn't quite true. He has made such great progress (and he HAS made great progress) because he is a gifted young man and a musician to his very finger tips. You can't make a silk purse without having the raw material to work on, can you? It's lovely that he feels that my input has made a difference though - that's what I went in to teaching to do and it's good when there is success.

And maybe, some time tomorrow, I will go for a meander in Debenhams and start thinking what I can spend my voucher on.

Thursday morning and the last day of the school year

Up early, as always, and it was completely dark when I woke. I suppose it is a month, more or less, past the longest day, but it comes as a shock to realise that the days are imperceptibly shortening again. It's only larks like me, waking so very early, who feel the impact at this time of year. Most sensible people are still tucked up in bed, sweetly sleeping. In the evenings, being an early-to-bed type, I have been going up in daylight, but it's now definitely darker.

Much to my relief, by last night the weather had cooled off quite a lot and it was an under-the-quilt night. I always sleep so much better under the cover but when it's hot and sweaty, that's just not possible. I wonder what it will be like today. Not too hot, I sincerely hope. We have two assemblies today. The first will be OK, just one key stage at a time, repeated, being the year 6 leavers' assembly. The second, this afternoon, is the goodbye assemblies when we are saying farewell to James (teacher), Petrina (TA) and Liz (teacher). It's unusual to lose so many at once, staff tend to come and stay (and stay and stay . . .), but Liz and Petrina are retiring. I feel a great sense of sadness - Petrina is my TA and Liz is the other year 1 teacher so it means big changes all round. However, they are both looking forward to a less busy, stressed, pressured life with time to do what they want to do, so I am very glad for them. Anyway, the point of all this rambling is that the whole school will have to cram into the hall this afternoon. Now, the hall is inadequate, to say the least; it's way too small and it will be very, very tricky to get all of the children, plus staff, in and as for comfort - forget it! If it's hot and/or humid on top of the crowding it could be rather unpleasant.
So - last day of term. Today's schedule could be phonics, followed by a spelling test, handwriting, unaided silent writing, maths and some science or geography in the afternoon or it could be choosing, ICT suite, DVD, choosing. Won't I be popular if I go for the first option!!
The house looks rather like a florists shop at present. On Tuesday I was presented with a lovely bouquet from a lad who is moving on to Secondary school and with whom I have had such a lot of contact since he started in Foundation Stage. Then, at the end of school yesterday, the parents came crowding into the bay to present me with a bouquet, a card, a scrapbook and a Debenham's voucher. I'm afraid I got a bit emotional when I saw the scrapbook. All the children had drawn a picture and written a little message and it's lovely. The voucher is super, very useful and I will enjoy treating myself to something I wouldn't normally get, but the scrapbook and messages are very special indeed. When I saw it I'm afraid I became a bit tearful! Silly me.
So - last day of the year. It's been a lovely year in many ways. Super class, very supportive parents, great colleagues, a few snow days . . . what more could a teacher ask. It's always a bit scary looking ahead into the unknown with a new class. It looks as if my teaching ability, SEN experience and 'child-empathy' skills will be stretched in the coming but that's not necessarily such a bad thing, is it? I've had challenging classes before and it's been OK - certainly there's a lot of professional and personal satisfaction to be gained, even if the wear and tear is considerable. Another plus is that I'll be surrounded by a great team of coworkers. Lisa, who was my TA for the two years in year 4, will be the new Year 1 TA each morning. Angela will be there to special one child full time at present. Karen will be there to special another few needy children, full time to start with, although we will need to look to 'weaning' them off her as they progress through year 1. I've never had such a large team of adults to work with in the classroom and it will be good, we all know each other, we get on and I am sure we will work together well!
Resolutions are usually made at the end of the year, looking ahead to the new year. This is the end of the year for teachers, so I am pondering on my resolutions for next year (aka known as 'targets' - I prefer the word 'resolution', it carries a different ethos to me). I need to come up with some practical, workable resolutions to move me on. At my age there's always the danger that I will tend to rest on whatever laurels I have gained and to stop looking forward. Granted, it does become harder as there is so much more behind than in front, but, in teaching as in so many other areas, if you stop moving on, you go backwards, and I don't want that.
Better go and do some exercise now!

Wednesday, 21 July 2010


Two more days to go.

Last night was very pleasant. We had a farewell party for Petrina, who has been a TA at school for a couple of decades and who is now retiring. She's my TA at the moment and I won't half miss her. We'd all given Tina a bit of money and she provided the food, soft drinks and decorations out of that. Another TA had made a lovely cake, my children had made butterflies to decorate the room (Petrina loves butterflies) and a good time was had by all. I did my little talky bit at the right time, this time. One of the few disadvantages of being KS1 coordinator is that now and again one has to do stuff like that!!

I was pretty pleased with the food control bit too. There were a lot of goodies - quiche, pizza, garlic bread, crisps, peanuts . . . but I generally stuck with the salad, crudites, etc. OK, a few crisps and nuts jumped onto my plate, but nothing terrible and I passed on dessert. I didn't really want any - well, in one way I did, but only because it all looked sweet and sticky and gooey. I don't feel deprived for not having any! And I was rewarded today with another pound off, according to Peeves (the Wii balance board), which I needed after plateauing for quite a time.
Today is going to be a funny old day. First thing the juniors are performing a cut down version of 'The Button Box' to KS1/FS before play. After play it's my coordinator's time and Faith will be supervising them watching the rest of Shrek 3. In the afternoon they will be using the butterflies they made yesterday and which decorated Tina's walls last night, and turning them into little cards for Petrina.

And the parents have asked if I will be with my class last thing this afternoon. I know what that means! And I bet the tears come.

I've got my pressies wrapped and ready now. As always, I am a few short and need to make an emergency trip to Morrison's, but that's not a huge problem to anyone but the bank manager! Like everyone else, I'm beginning to feel lethargic and floppy as the momentum grinds to a halt at school. I hope the children are OK - they are so terribly tired and are getting grizzly, whingy and short tempered - a bit like the teachers, in fact!
Photo: The agapanthus is looking very promising at the moment. Give it a few more days and it should be superb!

Tuesday, 20 July 2010


Three more days to go . . .

The house smells wonderful right now. I had a brainwave yesterday; they don't happen very often so when they do I like to exploit them.

You see, every term I have a small army of very willing parental (and other) helpers, who come in weekly, reliably, do whatever (often sharing books with the children) and to whom I do like to say 'thank you' with a little gift at the end of each term. At Easter, it's always a creme egg, for example!

Anyway, I was umming and ahing about what I could get, given fairly limited resources, and I saw that in Morrisons you can buy four little bottles of wine for a fiver - £1.25 each. And I thought maybe one of those, with some home made choc cookies, all prettily wrapped, would make a really acceptable little gift for my wonderful helpers.

The cookies are of the kind where the dough needs rolling and then chilling, so I made the dough last night, did one batch of nine, to test, you understand, and am doing the rest this morning with a view to handing out the thank yous tomorrow.

Mind you, the recipe obviously comes from the Ready, Steady, Cook stable. You know, the ones who say 'And just a small splash of olive oil' and then proceed to dollop at least half the bottle over the food or in the pan. This recipe is going to make thousands of cookies (this is only a slight exaggeration, believe me). I will make it again, they are delicious, but next time I will make half quantities (or less) and I will try dolloping spoonfuls onto the baking sheet rather than rolling such a soft dough into a sausage (a very messy process) and chilling.

Apart from this, today I am sort of out of class, doing my SEN work (what work, so late in the year?). My dears will be making layered butterflies, having relay races in the hall, watching Shrek 3 and watching a music concert in the hall in the afternoon. Between times they will be choos . . . er, I mean taking part in structured practical activities.

And then, after school, I will bag and wrap the wine and the cookies ready for tomorrow. Hopefully, the left over cookies will freeze - they'd better!! They're way too dangerous to be left lying around.

Monday, 19 July 2010

Monday morning

I'm sure the mornings are getting darker. A few weeks ago, when I woke (which is usually around four)it was quite bright, but the summer is drawing on and it's not darker at the same time. It will be autumn before we know where we are! Or maybe the answer is to sleep for longer - if anyone has the secret, please do share it with me.

I didn't manage to 'do' the freezer yesterday so that's another thing to add to the holiday job list. I did manage to sort out a lot of mess in the kitchen and, of course, the washing is all done and dried. Apart from that, I pottered most of the day and very nice it was too.

Today? Well, this afternoon we have the official 'meet your new teacher' half hour which always seems to drag past and feel an awful lot more like an hour than half an hour. I don't think there's anything else. So this morning I'm going to get my little dears to write a letter to Sarah telling her about themselves. Then there's assembly (and I hope I don't have to take it), then some maths. This afternoon, after Petrina has gone, they're making butterflies for her! She likes butterflies, I have been told.
So all in all, a somewhat bitty day.

The food for today is on the new blog!

Sunday, 18 July 2010

Sunday morning

I slept until nearly five this morning! Unheard of. That's what happens when one takes a cycle round Wii Island (I know that's not its proper name, I can't remember it) the day before. All that exercise yesterday was tiring! Shame it hasn't resulted in a corresponding drop in weight, however. I hate plateaux; they can be very discouraging and make it harder to stick to the healthy eating plan, especially if you're a comfort eater, like me. It's a bit of a battle right now . . . vibes needed, please.

I managed to get the upright freezer sorted out yesterday afternoon. There was some awfully old stuff in there (blush) and I was thankful that I have the habit of labelling and dating everything that I make and freeze. There's still plenty to be eaten up though, and I will need to concentrate on using up those meals as well as cooking completely from fresh. And, praise be, it didn't need defrosting.
I'm also thankful that the bin is emptied on Monday!

I've started another blog, here. The idea is that it's just a sort of food diary, to avoid boring my gentle readers here with lists of food. Feel free to go to it if you want; I can't say it will be any more exciting than this one, but it will act as some sort of record. I'm hoping that the photos will also help with portion control.
I can hope!

Today looks to be pretty busy too. I want to tackle the other freezer at some point. There's also some old stuff in there and I want to know what meat I have to use up. I used to have a list but I don't know where it's got to. At least I won't have to worry too much about cold loss with the chest freezer - the upright one warmed up alarmingly quickly yesterday - at least, the temperature dial showed that it did - so I kept having to open and close the door. When the door is set the 'wrong' way round, that can be a bit of a pain in a very small way. I was very thankful that the shed is now tidy and there's enough room there for jobs like that.

Apart from that, it's the usual Sunday stuff: bread making, washing and ironing, changing sheets, etc.

Saturday, 17 July 2010

Saturday morning

It looks lovely and sunny outside, there's a breeze to keep things fresh, George is coming this morning and it's all go here in sunny Chelmsford. No planning - NO PLANNING - and a houseful of things to be getting on with! Such fun.
So, today I hope to:
  • Sort out the kitchen
  • Do the usual Saturday chores - washing, ironing, etc
  • Sort out the upright freezer, chuck out all the very old stuff, defrost and generally put all in order. I can make a list of what's in there at the same time.
  • It that goes smoothly, I can then do the same to the chest freezer.
  • Shopping - I've taken to going to Sainsbury's in the evening, it's so much nicer.
  • Also, I need to get into school - there's an awful lot of end-of-year stuff to do and little lime to do it now! This should probably have gone first on the list, in fact, because it won;t keep for another day.
So that should keep me out of trouble.

When I get to Wyvale, I want to look out for something that will look nice through August. The beds look good right now, but by the middle of August, when it's the family barbecue, it's going to look less attractive, I think. I need to replace the French lavender as well - it's very woody.
Also, I do have to look out for a barbecue - can't have a barbecue without a barbecue!!

Today's food:
Porridge with sultanas; apple
Tomato and lentil soup
One pot Mediterranean chicken; cheats cherry ice cream
No snacks. My weight has been teetering along on the same level for over a week now. Some of it will be the exercising, muscle weighing more than fat, etc, but not entirely, I think! Must get back on track.

Friday, 16 July 2010

Friday morning

Only one week of school days to go - five days' worth. Well, actually, three and a half for me as one day is SEN, two hours for PPA (today) and 1 hour for co-ordinator time. next Wednesday (brilliant timing) Excellent!!

When I woke this morning it was howling and lashing outside. It's getting better now but I do wonder about this afternoon, whether the field will be OK.
Junior sports afternoon is always fun. As my bay looks out onto the field, I always let the children go out, if they want, sit alongside the wall and watch the action (what they can see of it, that is). It makes for a very pleasant, easy afternoon. Also I must remember to check who is in the ICT suite - if no-one wants it, I will bag the time to make up for the time we didn't get yesterday because we were finishing off our pop-up pictures!

And then next week it's making cards to say thank you to a very long list of parents, butterflies for Petrina (she loves butterflies) and generally tidying up and sorting out. No planning, of course - and talking of planning, when I was sorting out my desk, I found a huge pile of lesson plans which really should have gone into the file in the staffroom. Ooooops!

I'm now officially off Bodychef and onto do it yourself! I took a quick glance through the contents of the upright freezer (where I keep the meals I make) and there's some awfully old stuff in there which I reckon needs dumping. A shocking waste, but there you go! In a way it will be good to start again and I will feel guilty if there's stuff in the freezer. So one task this weekend (Sunday) is to do a proper clear out and, maybe, a defrost too. I'll see what condition it's in.

Another weekend task is to go into school through the library, do some serious sorting out and shredding of very old paperwork, to sort out my cupboards and get the internal file ready to hand on to Sarah. This will involve updating the records and making sure all the SEN stuff is printed off for her. It's all done, just not in hard copy yet. The book trolley also needs a good clear out. There are some very old, battered books in there and a very kind mum has donated a lot of her son's books (they're moving house and he's past them now anyway), so space is seriously needed.

Today's food:
B: Bran flakes; grapes
L: Hummus; sweet onion ryvita; salad
D: Barbecue (weather permitting) as our KS1/FS end of year social. Nice. Must remember to get a dozen sausages and something to drink. I think I'm going to try to keep off the alcohol this evening. Apart from the calories, I'm so weary, I reckon I will fall asleep if I have more than a small glass.

Thursday, 15 July 2010

Thursday evening

. . . and home from Open Evening, very weary, but contented. It was a pleasant two hours but extremely busy, what with the huge majority of my parents turning up, plus next year's parents coming to see the classroom and previous parents coming to say hi! My voice is a little rough now, and my back is aching, but there's a warm glow inside!

I thought Tuesday took the biscuit, but today K in reception had a phone call from a parent at just after ten this morning, asking junior sports day would be cancelled because of the weather. Junior sports day is tomorrow!!! Yes, they know, but would it be cancelled? You couldn't make it up, could you?

Thursday morning

I woke up a few times in the night and realised that it felt unseasonably chilly; on looking out this morning I can see why. A strong wind and lashing rain. What a change from yesterday evening when sunshine and showers played together and rainbows chased the rain across the horizon.

Today is a different story - it looks as if it is set for the day and does not bode well for the KS2 sports day which is scheduled for tomorrow afternoon. If the grass is too wet it can't happen - good old Elf and Safety!

It also puts paid to our plans for a fun end of year games lesson this morning. What a shame! Now I have to think of something else for them to do - drat and double drat!

It's the last Bodychef day for a while today. After this evening (school open evening) all the serious stuff is past and done and parties become the order of the week. Bodychef would be an awful waste of money. After that I have the time to do it myself - and about time too, I'm sure some of you are saying.
So today it's
B: Bodychef cereal; apple
L: Tuna and salad
D: Chilli with cheese, cucumber salad; pear and cheese cubes
Sn: rice cakes, grapes, walnuts

And this evening I need to clear the fridge ready for the new lot of stuff.

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Wednesday later on

I just had to come back to say how absolutely brilliant the KS2 show was.
It was 'The Button Box' and it was superb . . . nothing less than superb. Well done, one and all.

Wednesday evening

. . . and we got Infant Sports Day done and dusted this afternoon! It was dry all morning so there was no 'decision' to have to make. Half way through the afternoon it got blustery and there were a few spots of rain and we all thought 'uh oh'. However, it all blew over and didn't stop the fun.

I'm off to watch the Juniors' show this evening, it's open evening tomorrow night and then that's the 'official' stuff finished really. I wonder how much work we will get done on Friday. :0)

I've just had some shocking news on FirstClass. Stephen Neville, who I have known online for many years, died at some point overnight or this morning. Stephen was probably one of the first people I got friendly with on FirstClass. He was deeply thoughtful, extremely intelligent and hilariously funny with a tongue that could scorch at 1000 paces. He will be sorely missed by many, me included - my deepest sympathies to those who loved him.
RIP, Stephen.

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

Tuesday evening

Well, the early morning Wii rain dance obviously worked some evil magic because just before midday it started drizzling, very, very light at first and then gradually heavier and more dampening. I got extremely wet in the time it took to tie cancellation messages to the front and back gates.

The parental phone calls started coming in. For a time the line was totally blocked.

By just before one it was obvious that even if it stopped raining right then it was not going to be safe on the field or pleasant for anyone staying outside. So I took the 'management' decision to postpone sports day. The look of relief on the faces of my colleagues showed me that it was the proper decision, underlined shortly afterwards by a heavy downpour.

What utterly amazed me though was the attitude taken by some who phoned earlier to enquire about the current state of play. No, we really couldn't say whether it was going to pour later on, no, we couldn't make a decision there and then, we would have to wait and see as, surprise, surprise, we actually didn't have a meteorological crystal ball. A small minority of parents were surprisingly abusive to the office staff as they took the calls and explained the current situation, as if we had caused the dodgy and uncertain weather in order to personally prevent them from attending sports day.
I was angry for K and C, who were fielding the calls, some of them angry and unpleasant, and who both had a pile of work mounting up as they took time out to answer the stream of queries. It was unfair and unnecessary and I felt helpless to prevent it - not a nice feeling.

So here is the message I placed on the school web site and via parentmail. I wonder if it will prevent what happened today. Who knows? Watch this space, eh?

Three cheers and then some more for Faith (my SEN supply cover) who took all the children into the hall to watch a DVD on the large screen. The children saw it as a treat and a compensation for not having sports day, the staff saw it as an opportunity to get on with end of year stuff and everyone saw Faith as an absolute star. She well deserved the little patio rose I popped over to Morrisons to get for her as a thank you from us all. Love you, Faith, many thanks.

I wonder what the weather will be like tomorrow.

Tuesday morning

I've just had a rotten, sleepless, worrying night. It's really silly because there's absolutely nothing that can be done in the middle of the night, but that doesn't stop the thoughts from going round and round and round, preventing sleep and self-generating more worry.

And the cause? Only that, having struggled to find enough adults to make our sports day this afternoon work properly, yesterday, after school, I discovered that we are two key adults down and, while I can fill one space, I have no idea what to do about the other, depending as it does on knowing what the races are.


Apart from that, everything is lovely and at 3:15 this afternoon I will take myself out of school, come home and fall asleep! :0) At least today is SEN day which means, unfortunately, time to get all the last minute stuff together rather than plonking the children in front of a DVD to keep them occupied! It also means one more adult as Faith will also be available to help.
But how I wish the juniors hadn't arranged their rehearsal at a local secondary for the same afternoon as our sports day - usually the Y6s help out and there would be no problems at all.
Almost, I wish for rain. If we had rain it would be cancelled and held at another time when there would be plenty of adults.
Maybe I ought to do a rain dance rather than Wii fit this morning!

Monday, 12 July 2010

Monday morning

. . . and this is a quick one because I'm a bit short of time. There's not even time for the Wii this morning, drat!

I'm pleased to see that Spain won the World Cup, not because I follow Spain or even follow football in general, but because Spain was the team I got in the staff draw! I never win draws, so this is nice. Cakes all round at playtime, I think!!!

Sunday, 11 July 2010

If you see . . .

. . . Yeo Valley organic lemon curd yogurt (special edition), get some. It's absolutely gorgeous. No, it's not Bodychef, but I am eating my Wii exercise calories, yum yum!

Photos: in the garden

Sunday afternoon

Things I have learned from Bodychef:

40g rice looks like nothing weighed out but it is MORE THAN ENOUGH. Yes it is! Best to weigh, not guess. Ditto for pasta.

Spinach may be really Good For You, but it doesn't half take a long time to pick out and it takes half the sauce with it. Moral - only put in a little. Even better, don't use any at all.

Thickening granules are low cal and a few thicken a thinnish sauce wonderfully!

Big plate OK, small plate better. The eye is mightier than the brain!

And if you want a whole load of Useful Plastic Pots - use Bodychef. And what's on the photo is less than half. They'll do me for years and years!

Sunday morning

There was a beautiful pink sky earlier on so I grabbed my camera, went outside and switched it on. Memory card full! Drat! So I tried to delete the photos which I know I have uploaded and blink blink went the battery warning light. Then the camera shut down. Drat and double drat! I suppose I could have used the camera on my phone but I didn't think of that - after all, it was well early in the morning! My own fault.
So now it's sitting on the desk in front of me, recharging!

When I took DG home yesterday, after managing to prise him off the Wii, DD showed me his school report. It was very, very good indeed. He's made some outstanding progress this year, not only in the usual academic areas but also in the more challenging area of personal and social development. We're both a bit puzzled about some of his his levels though - the English seems to indicate four years' progress (two levels increase) and, while we both know he's come on amazingly, we'd like to know quite how the school came to level him thus. Did he take optional QCAs, for example, or did they use their assessment system (CASPA) and that's what the software told them? We don't know. It makes me laugh though - usually we're saying to ourselves things like 'he's been doing that for ages at home and (me in particular) he's a higher level than that! This time it was more 'wow' and 'that's fantastic'. Well done DG - cash reward coming your way!

The reports that the Columbus School create are very full, very complete and full of photographic evidence as well as plenty of words. The presentation is very impressive. I have to remind myself that it's a small school with small classes. If I had eight pupils I might also be able to produce something as seriously informative. Maybe, anyway!

Food today:
B: Melon slices; fruit yogurt (might turn it into yogurt ice cream)
D: one pot spicy beef; melon and grape medley (with extra natural, yummy yogurt and perhaps a dash of honey)
T: Tuna with coleslaw and crackerbread; apple
Sn: grapes, prunes; more crackerbread

Saturday, 10 July 2010

Saturday evening

. . . and what a scorcher it's been! Phew. Even sitting indoors with the fan on, the blinds closed and the windows open, it's been a bit uncomfortable. Not that I had much time to worry about it with all the school stuff to sort! It was worth the hard work though - all the work is now where it ought to be and I feel a lot better about it all. Many of them have finished their books so I just shoved the rest of the sheets in the back of them - no point giving out new books now, none whatsoever.

I made a nice dressing to go with my salad at lunch; it was light mayo, balsamic apple vinegar, Dijon mustard, runny honey and lime juice, all put in a jar and then shaken well until it all combined into a runny dressing. It was really tasty.

And I had another yogurt making session, this time with some considerable success. It was UHT full milk and Ubley yogurt and what's resulted is absolutely delicious. Because it was UHT milk, I didn't need to scald it first, I just microwaved it to about 46 deg and then stirred in the starter. I had some on the vegetable curry tonight and then some more on the pineapple and mango for dessert. I now have to try it with semi skimmed UHT as full fat is really rather too calorific.

Saturday morning

. . . and I have a busy day ahead of me. Stupidly, I have allowed rather a large backlog of un-filed work and, as it's open evening next Thursday, I have to get it all sorted, trimmed and stuck in the children's books. Boring but all my own fault! I woke early so have done a chunk already.

DG stayed overnight and has become addicted to the Wii. He's tried games I haven't looked at yet and looks to be on it for a while yet. I'll have to stop him soon because breakfast is nearly ready.

Better go and stir the porridge!

Friday, 9 July 2010

Mad dogs and primary children . . .

It wasn't so bad this morning. In fact., morning play was quite comfortable really . . . but it just got hotter and hotter. When they came in after lunch play, red and sweating, they all drank copious amounts of water before settling down to an extended Golden Time.
What put the cap on it was what I saw as I pootled home after school (earlier than usual because it is Friday). Twenty or so little boys, all tearing around the school field, wearing football kit, 'bibs' and heavy football boots, because it was football club - and hardly a one had their head covered. Sooner them than me!

I went round to my new class after play to take story time with them. I can see that a certain little lad and I will be exchanging words not too far into the future. They certainly are a totally different kettle of fish to my current class - next year will be interesting!

And now it's the weekend. DG is staying overnight, which will be nice, and then it's getting those theme books up to date for open evening . I gather it's going to be baking hot, so it's just as well I am going to be too busy to want to get out and about.

Thursday, 8 July 2010

Thursday morning

. . . and now I can!!!

Do the Wii hula hoop thingy, I mean. Mind you, I can now feel it all round my middle, so it must be doing some good! Hopefully . . .

There's not much else to say really. End of school year life swings along, inexorably and unstoppably heading towards the last day. I think most paperwork is now more or less complete; I don't think there's anything major outstanding. Hope not, anyway!

DG is coming to stay tomorrow night - super! DD is going out for some sort of girly night somewhere! So now I have to work out what I can feed him with! I think maybe some sausages and home made oven chips might fit the bill.
And while on the subject of food - today's is . . .
B: Fresh fruit platter; natural yogurt with honey (my addition)
L: Hummus, oatcakes, beetroot, apple
D: red chicken with rosemary and tomatoes; broccoli; rhubarb and strawberry compote; yogurt
Snacks: apple; pear

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

Wednesday evening

I take back what I said. When I tried the yogurt this evening it was actually rather nice. Very different to shop bought and it wasn't all that thick, more like a drinking yogurt, but I put that down to the container it was made in not holding the heat for long enough. I'm going to try using a proper flask next time. What I actually did was zizz it up with strawberries, peaches and mango slices (all fresh) to make a smoothie mixture and it's now in the freezer in seven cups plastic beakers. It was really very nice so I hope it freezes well because I'm looking forward to some breakfasts there!

The next experiment will be with UHT long life milk. However, I won't try that until after next weekend, when I start doing it myself rather than using Bodychef. Fingers crossed!!

Wednesday morning

. . . and the days seem to be developing a pattern of sorts. Up when I wake (it's around four at the moment but will get later once the holidays start and I have time for 'power naps' in the afternoon. I love that term - it sounds so much better than 'falling asleep after lunch'. Anyway, it's up, coffee (utterly essential), check emails, check planning and resources for the day, do Wii exercises (I'm managing about 25 mins at present), have a bath, have breakfast, get dressed, do any other stuff (today it's putting out the recycling bags), and go off to school for 7:30.

Update on making yogurt. I won't be using diluted evaporated milk again. It tastes too much like - er - well, evaporated milk (sheepish smile) It's OK, it will make good smoothies and good ice cream, but it's not got that creamy slight tang I'm after. I think maybe I'll use some of the tinned fruit in my cupboard and make some smoothies to freeze.
So - next effort will be UHT milk, which some seem to swear by. Either semi skimmed or full fat to start with and maybe a little more starter. I'll get there eventually! :0)

Food today:
B: muesli; plain yogurt (not my own) with a little added honey
L: tuna and nicoise salad
D: spinach and sweet potato stew. I really didn't care much for this last time I had it - too much spinach, which is not my fave veg at all. Today the baby pizza might swing into action!
Sn: apple, pear, brazils, cheese

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

Tuesday evening.

I'm glad to be relaxing after a somewhat wearying day at school. SENCO day! It was one of those days when I felt I was buzzing around all the tine, but with little material achievement. I managed to get some important paperwork off, I read through some other important stuff and I created (from a hand written model by Liz's TA) a behaviour frequency chart that can be used in a number of different situations. I suppose really I did achieve some stuff, but it doesn't really feel like it much!

Oh, I had such a battle with myself after school. I suddenly developed an overwhelming craving for pizza. Really silly, because it's not usually a favourite food, but, oh my goodness, it was strong. I went over to Morrisons and stood looking at the pizzas when common sense started fighting back. It didn't win totally, but . . . well, I did get a pizza, but it was a child's tiny one. I got some cheese to grate over, but it was a net of those single portions. And when I got home I put them both in the fridge and they're still there. And now I've had proper dinner, I am unlikely to want anything else this evening. Phew. Narrow escape there!

And - big and - I now know that one of those child sized pizzas is going to be enough for me and I CAN have one and not be over indulging too much - even with extra cheese on the top. That's worth knowing for the future, I reckon. Just in case!!

Monday, 5 July 2010

Monday evening

. . . and not an awful lot to say really. There were some nice comments about the reports and H - the same H who said that the best thing about this year was his teacher - said in his diary that mum took him to 'Back in Time' (a local and popular eating place) because 'she was so proud of me'. Isn't that nice?

The other thing of note was that I managed an hour of Wii exercise. Bet I don't keep that up every day! And I still can't do that bloomin' hula hoop exercise! Grrrrr . . .

Monday morning

Fourteen teaching days to go. In those 14 days there is two sports days, two junior shows, an open evening, year six will be away for five days (oh dear, what a shame, etc, etc) and numerous small things like a farewell assembly, a barbecue, a buffet in the school hall, etc, etc, etc!!!

Twenty five minutes on the Wii this morning - early morning, before I have my bath, is going to be the best time! But I can't do the hula hoop - grrrrrrrr

Today's food:
B: Granola; fruit yogurt
L: Curried tuna pasta salad
D: Red lentil and sweet pepper curry; quinoa; chocolate biscuit cake
Snacks: apple; plums; brazils

Sunday, 4 July 2010


Finally managed to get the Wii up and running, thanks to DD's common sense when I wibbled. Now I'm all hot and sticky and I've only done 15 mins worth! Hey, better than nothing, isn't it?

Yogurt unwrapping time and it's come out all runny. :0( I'm hopefully straining it through a muslin and maybe it will set better when it's cold . . . or maybe it's back to the drawing board!

Later on

It's been an experimental morning.

First I tried to make tahini (couldn't find any yesterday) but it wasn't entirely successful because the amount I was trying to make was too small for the blender and it had to be zizzed for too long for the chopper to cope.
Never mind, I decided that as you have to zizz the chickpeas for ages to make hummus, I'd have a go at that, using Annabeth's recipe (very nice, thanks, Annabeth) which cuts down on the oil by using some of the liquid from the tinned chick peas, and adding the toasted sesame seeds to the mixture. I'm pleased to say that was a whole lot more successful and without the bitterness one gets from commercial tahini. So there's seven little pots of hummus chilling and waiting until I want to wander down the garden to the shed. As I'd opened a pack of cannellini beans to make up the chickpeas (because there weren't quite enough chickpeas for the recipe), I made a cannellini bean dip with the remainder - three lunches' worth. And now I'm having a go at making my own natural yogurt. The milk has been scalded, I've added some skimmed milk powder and now it's cooling before adding the probiotic yogurt as a starter. Then it's going into the Easiyo container to magically turn into wholesome home made low fat yogurt. That's the idea anyway. And I won't feel the least bit guilty about eating it because Bodychef allows 15 fl oz skimmed milk each day and I never have that much. In fact, it's good because I will be upping my calcium intake.

This afternoon? I've been sneezing something rotten, so I will take a dose of piriton with my lunch which means that I'll be snoozing for most of the afternoon! I bought the latest Rosemary Conley magazine to inspire me, so the moments I spend awake will be spent reading.

Have a good afternoon yourself!

Sunday morning

Waking at five seems so much more sensible than waking before four. In comparison, it feels like a lie in. A nice Sunday treat for me.

I found my next two target skirts. Some of you might remember me saying that I'm getting one garment (skirts seem the best thing to use) that is one size too small for me and using it as a measure of how the healthy eating is going. I've now grown into my current target skirt! When I went to Sainsbury's yesterday evening to get some items not covered by Bodychef, they had some clothes on sale. Obviously, I had a rummage through, as one does, and found a skirt I had originally said no to several weeks ago because it's the same as one Liz (the other year 1 teacher) has. It had been reduced to £3.60 and was just the right size for a target skirt. Who could say 'no' at that price? There was another one, different colour, same style, same price, one size below that, so I got that too. Two skirts for the price of half the original one! That's value for you.
I also got three T shirts - some of mine are getting rather too large now and while I can still slop around in them, I'm hoping that by the end of the summer holiday they will be way too big for a smart appearance at school. They were sale too. So two skirts and three tops for under £15!! Can't be bad!

Apart from that it was a lazy day. I made two seeded loaves in the morning, one for tea today and the other sliced, wrapped in individual slices and frozen for the future. I made some oat biscuits which were OK but I won't be cooking them again as I have nicer recipes. I made that strawberry ice cream which is seriously scrummy as well as being just about the easiest thing ever. It made six little portions so that's three for today and the others for the future.
But most of the time I either snoozed, read or watched back to back episodes of an old Britain's Next Top Model - utter rubbish but somehow addictive!

And my food today is:
B: Muesli; plain yogurt and berry compote (which I will turn into an ice cream, I think)
D: chickpeas with butternut squash and tomatoes; broccoli; mango and pineapple
T: Chicken strips; spinach, rocket and courgette salad, avocado (if it's soft enough), salad dressing; ice cream
Sn: walnuts, pear, apple, brazils

Saturday, 3 July 2010

Gorgeous and very, very easy strawberry ice cream

I had some strawberries that were getting over-ripe. I had about three quarters of a pot of creme fraiche that was left over from the shower party last week and which needed either eating soon or throwing. So this is what I did.

I zizzed the strawberries and pushed it through my mouli thing to make a puree. I added a couple of tablespoons of icing sugar - proper serving spoons, not measures. I added the creme fraiche. Then I just whisked the lot together till combined and churned and froze it in the ice cream maker - it's still freezing, in fact.

Goodness, it's delicious. I will have to be very careful! I'm going to have to freeze it in single portion pots, I think, to maybe avoid indiscriminate partaking thereof!

I wonder if it will work with the Streele Farm blackberries later on this summer :0)

Saturday morning

Well, I did sleep well for a while, but it's been a hot, sticky night and I've been up since before four. It's not so much of a problem today as I can have a 'power nap' later on - several, if I want them, in fact!

One of the joys of losing some weight is that I can now get into a number of summer things that were way way way too tight two months ago. In this weather, it's a great relief. Last weekend I spent a couple of hours starting to sort out my wardrobes. There are clothes in there that I am so unlikely to ever wear again that they got folded, bundled into carrier bags and left out for recycling. We used to have a clothes recycling point when the supermarket was Somerfields, but when Morrisons took over the recycling facility disappeared. While searching for the nearest clothes point online, I discovered that if you leave bagged clothes of certain kinds out with the green box, the council will take them and recycle. I did think for a short time about selling some of the hardly worn stuff on somewhere like Ebay, but finally decided that it was just too much hassle! The council do a proper recycling job by all accounts and I suppose that's what I pay my rates for - also, it was easy!!
So today it's the drawers, which also have a load of unnecessary tut inside them and need a really good sort out. See, I knew I'd get properly to grips with my messy bedroom at some point!!

I found a likely looking recipe online: cinnamon, honey and lemon oat cookies, so I'm having a go at them this morning. Apart from the fact that George is here for an hour's gardening and I like to offer him sustenance, I also like to have something to offer DD and DG for Sunday tea. DD takes the remains home for DG's packed dinners. I hope they're as nice as they sound!

Friday, 2 July 2010

Friday evening

. . . and it's the weekend again, phew. Just two more before the end of term (after this one, of course).
Sleep well - I know I will!

Thursday, 1 July 2010


And very nice it all looks too - see photos below.

Thursday morning

And another day starts to bite the dust. There are now sixteen teaching days to go until the end of the school year and everyone is starting to look bone weary. Usually the school buzzes with life and energy but at the moment it's all somewhat lethargic and 'stodgy'. There are still several important events to go, including the two sports days (yes, we do have some competitive events), open evening and the two junior show performances. Reports go out on Friday afternoon and any fall out from them will land next week. I'm keeping my fingers crossed - I've never had any serious problems with my reports and I don't want any this year either.

Yesterday afternoon was more enjoyable than I had anticipated. I'm not a keen admirer of formal peer observations, especially when grades have to be given, but I do enjoy the actual process of watching another teacher in action. I always learn something from the experience and come out of it a little bit wiser. Giving feedback can feel awkward, depending on how it all went, but yesterday's was fine.

I gave out the invites for the next of our KS1 and FS social 'do's yesterday - this time a barbecue round at June's in a couple of weeks' time. Just about everyone can come, which is great. People really do seem to enjoy these times together. Everyone is very sociable, we have some giggles and indulge in a bit of harmless 'gossip' and have a good meal! In case you're thinking that we've hardly recovered from the last one (true), remember that it was a special - a goodbye to someone going on maternity leave - not one of the usual termly get-togethers.

The fence isn't quite finished - I don't think Mick works on it all day, he does part and then has other work to do. I don't mind; it's looking good anyway and can only look better as time passes. What I am less impressed with is that the wallflowers haven't arrived. Given that they were posted a week ago, they will be dead by the time they get here. I think a complaint is in order here.

Food today:
B: Bodychef special cereal (all nutty, seedy and fruity); grapes
L: tuna, mixed salad and oatcakes
D: chilli with brown rice and grated cheese; cucumber salad; pear and cheese cubes
snacks: apple; walnuts; rice cakes
All very yum. However, I am thinking hard about the next steps now. I have Bodychef ordered for another week and a half. After that I think I will have a couple of three day hampers to last me over the middle of the last two weeks. The last weekend before we break up is the barbecue and I'm going out on the Saturday, so I will do my own thing then. After we've broken up, I will also do my own thing over that weekend. I might order some more for the first week of the holiday, while I look over all the previous menus and think about doing it myself, maybe knocking up some specific menus in the same style. The thought is very attractive as I do enjoy cooking when I have the time and, of course, I will need to do this anyway while we're at Streele Farm. We're going to organise meals the same way as last year as it worked so well. Breakfast will be sorted by whoever is on the spot (usually me and DG), and we will take turns (including DG) in providing lunch and dinner. Last year DG needed quite a lot of help. This year, after cooking lessons weekly, at school, for much of the year, he seems feel a lot more confident to do most of it himself.
And then it will be back on the Bodychef wagon with the start of the new school year unless something dramatic happens to prevent this. A long time into the future, it seems, but the time will go quickly!