Sunday, 28 February 2010

FMC 8: the results


Very, very tasty. Crunchy, melt in the mouth, lovely!

FMC 8: AWT's quick biscuits

I used to bake a fair bit when the children were little. Nowadays I don't do all that much, but this morning when I saw this recipe in a new mag, Good To Know Recipes, I thought 'why not?'. So I am doing a FMC this week after all.
As always, I've used what I've got rather than following the recipe totally, so the fruit is 'berries and cherries' rather than dates, raisins and blueberries, because I had a packet that needed using up, and the sugar is a mixture of dark and light muscavado (must get some more). The dough is now rolled into three 'sausages' and is chilling in the fridge, prior to being cut into 1cm thick slices and baked. It says that it will keep in the fridge for up to two weeks, which is worth knowing.
As always, I will let you know. I find AWT's recipes usually work well, so here's hoping.

There's a photo of the results of the original recipe via the link. I'll try to remember to snap mine when they come out of the oven this afternoon!

Sunday morning


. . . and I didn't sleep quite so well last night after a fairly heavy (and delicious) meal.

We had to be at the table at six, which suited us all well. I had the terrine with a delicious home made chutney and salad leaves for starter, followed by the hugest portion of steak pie I think I have ever seen. The amount on my plate was the amount I would have prepared for me, Mum and Dad with possibly some left over! All a bit daunting. It was, however, delicious - melt in the mouth stuff but, sadly, I couldn't eat even half of it. At the other end of the table, DG had the same and managed to plough his way through most of it, having already had French onion soup, and then finished off with a dessert. Where did he put it all?
It was a lovely evening, my only complaint being, as with so many places, that their portions are unreasonably large. I'd have been glad to have had one third of what was served! Note to self: Next time, have the salmon!

As for today, there's very little cooking to be done. Breakfast will be toast as that's what Mum and Dad always have. Then they leave and head home. Lunch/dinner will be the leftovers of the Chinese takeaway on Friday evening and tea will be more of the soup we had yesterday for lunch. There's some ironing to do and the planning to print out, none of which is particularly onerous. The garden desperately needs some attention, but it won't happen today.

The weather is forecast to get rough - high winds and very heavy rain. Chelmsford has already had some flooding this week, so it doesn't look good. Being a little higher round here, we have never had any problems of that kind (touch wood), but there are some local areas that tend to get waterlogged and new housing has recently been built in one of those areas. I hope they'll be OK.


Photo: Given the dull weather, another iris photo seems appropriate. This used coloured edges.

Saturday, 27 February 2010

Saturday morning


Well, I did manage to stay awake and I almost slept the clock round. Asleep around nine, awake around seven and I feel so much better for it too.

We're all off for a celebration meal this evening, to celebrate Mum and Dad's diamond wedding anniversary. Off to the Blue Strawberry again, which seems to have become our favourite stamping ground for family meals. It's not cheap, but neither is it dreadfully expensive and the food is good. As we are due to sit down at six, lunch will be very light and I am making the roasted pepper and tomato soup again. It's currently roasting and starting to smell scrummy.
As there's some Chinese left over from last night, destined to be eaten by me for Sunday lunch, I'm afraid this weekend won't see a F M C. I will catch up at some point, I'm sure. It's nearly the end of the month and the new food mags will be in the shops within a fortnight.

The remainder of the day will be spent doing not an awful lot. Bit of washing, bit of drying, bit of ironing and, most certainly, a bit of snoozing!

Have a good'un!!


Photo: A kitty tangle . . .

Friday, 26 February 2010

Friday evening

Mum and Dad are here and Middle Brother got down safely from snow bound Scotland. We set off to the local pub to eat, only to find it jam packed full with at least half an hour waiting time. Stuff that for a bowl of chips and a stack of onion rings - we popped off to the local Chinese and ended up with a very tasty selection for less, probably, than we would have paid in the pub, with enough left over for Sunday lunch for me and eaten in much more pleasant surroundings - my dining room.
Yes, it is more pleasant now - I got a lot of tidying up done this morning!!

Now MB is at DDs where he's staying the night, indulging in a spot of kitten cuddling and nephew bouncing!

And I MUST stay awake a bit longer - or I will be up at three again tomorrow morning.

Friday morning


So early. That's the trouble with going to bed early. I must get some housework done before school as visitors will be arriving before I get home from school! :0)

Have a good day!
Photo: Cute kitty!! Look at those dear little whiskers!

Tuesday, 23 February 2010

So tired.


Our school has lots of extra curricular activities for those who are interested. Sports clubs of all sorts, a choir, an orchestra, a hand bells group, a recorder group, a speed stacking club . . . oh, all sorts. Next term a newspaper club is starting off. Variety is the name of the game
Most of them are for Key Stage 2. There's a year 2 athletics club in the summer, but mostly the clubs are for the juniors.

With one exception. For half a term each year (six weeks) we run a year 1 art club. 2o children, more or less, meet for about an hour of creative fun and frolics, with one KS1 teacher in turn. Today was the first session and I was leading it. It was supposed to be 20 children but 24 wanted to come along, so 24 it was. Actually a nice number - three groups of eight. I decided to start it off with a paint extravaganza, so we had bubble printing, string printing and blob printing and they rotated between the three tables. It all went down a real treat but it was tiring to say the least! They went home with painted hands and happy faces and I'm having an early night!!

Photo: after rain all day with a pretty heavy snow shower during the club, I need brightening up, so here's more irises!

Monday, 22 February 2010

Monday evening

How nice was it to be back at school? I do love my class this year. They're such sunny, good tempered, pleasant children and I'm very. very lucky to be their teacher!
I set them a challenge over half term. Just an optional one but one I thought they would enjoy. The challenge was to use stuff they found at home to make a model house (last half term's theme was 'houses and homes').
So a goodly number of them came in out of the wet and cold this morning with very exciting looking carrier bags which unwrapped to show some super, child-like models. At this age they are still honest enough to tell you which bits they made and which bits mummy or daddy made and one house had a paper plaque on the back which proudly proclaimed the house to be made by himself, big sister and mum! Lovely.

I took a few photos - here are some of them. They make a very interesting display!

All the colours of the rainbow.

All shapes and sizes.



This one opened up to show the inside. Very clever.





And with this one the second floor lifted off to show the downstairs. Wonderful! The little rooms had carpets, two rooms had a clock on the wall and the bedroom had a little mirror.

And one of the nicest things - the parents had heeded my plea not to buy anything special, just to use ordinary stuff. There were no ready bought, high-craft things, just loads of sellotape, paint, felt tips and inventiveness.
Just what I had hoped for.

Monday morning


And it's back to work again, hey ho! All prepared, ready and waiting. An early start because of not being able to get in and ready on Saturday (sulk, sulk).
So, to cheer me up, here's more kittens!


Little one in the corner wasn't really being squashed!


BOO!


Growing up!

Sunday, 21 February 2010

Sunday evening


I have a problem. A dilemma. A decision to make.

This morning, after posting the photo of the irises, I had a little play with them in Paintshop Pro to get some 'arty' effects It was quite good fun and I thought the series of photos could be used to brighten up my daily blogs for a few days.

But then I went over to DD's for tea and took a shamefully large number of kitten photos, some of which have come out quite nicely.

So, what do I do - post irises or kittens? Kittens or irises? I don't know so this evening I will confuse everyone and post both! Irises at the top (furred) and kittens below (don't need furring, they're furry enough already).
Hope you like them. More to follow another time.

Sunday morning.


The last day of the half term is here. Sad!

After breakfast, I will have to set to and get the planning tweaked and ready, with resources to match. After that it's some housework. And this afternoon I'm finally getting over to DD's to see her, DG and the kittens who, she tells me, are now all over the place and very delightful to watch. I'll be able to take her the lemon curd which she now has to eat in a week, although I doubt that will be much of a problem!

And then tomorrow it will all be a mad panic. Remember I said I was spending yesterday in school, sorting loads of things out. I can get into school through the first entrance shared with the library. To my utter consternation, when I got there, the library was closed (for some structural work) so I couldn't get in. So my classroom is an utter tip and, as the library will remain closed for several weeks, I won't even be able to get in on Saturdays. I'm more than a bit fed up with this as I rely on those days to keep everything spick and span. That's life!

Photo: A very old one. I think most of us are getting tired of the cold and damp and this cheered me up no end!

Saturday, 20 February 2010

And here's the photo.


FMC 7 Roasted tomato and red pepper soup

It was very, very easy to make, it's a beautiful colour and, even without the creme fraiche/milk, tastes wonderful. I added a good grinding of black pepper but very little salt as it didn't need it. I had to use dried thyme as I didn't have fresh, but, apart from that, I made it according to the recipe. It doesn't seem to be in the Delicious archives yet so I can't point you in the direction of the recipe, sorry.
It makes two good helpings, one of which is in the fridge either for this evening or tomorrow and the other is potted, bagged and ready to take into school with me. There's a microwave in the staffroom, luckily!

Hopefully I will remember to take a photo of it this evening (or tomorrow) when I have the other portion!

And it's definitely another I will make again. It could be tasty chilled too, come the summer.

Saturday morning

. . and I've hit a target. I was very much hoping to hit 3,000 on the blog counter before the blog was a year old and I have! It's only a little blog with a few readers, but it's nice to see the numbers day by day! Thanks very much, everyone.

I missed a target in a way though. Two days ago it was Middle Brother's birthday and I was so involved with the virtual hustings questions I completely forgot. How embarrassing and how unkind of me. Sorry, MB, I hope you had a lovely day. Belated Happy Birthday!

Today? Can't put it off any longer. It's in to school for the day. Yawn . . .

My FMC this week is from February's Good Food. Roasted tomato and red pepper soup. If I get going I can make it now and take it into school to heat in the microwave for lunch. It is fairly simple: roast some onion, red pepper and a can of tomatoes with thyme, unpeeled garlic cloves, olive oil and balsamic vinegar. When softened, squeeze the garlic from their skins, blend everything, push through a sieve, season to taste . . . It says add some creme fraiche and I don't have that so I might just use milk.

Friday, 19 February 2010

Absolutely gorgeous


The lemon mousse, that is.
You want a small carton of double cream (around 250ml) one large lemon, juiced and zested, around 50g caster sugar and 2 egg whites.
First whisk the egg whites to soft peaks. Doing this first means you don't have to wash the whisk blades in-between. Then put the cream, zest, sugar and lemon juice in another bowl and whisk until the cream is thickening but is not too stiff to fold the egg whites in. Add more lemon/sugar to taste. Then just gently fold the egg whites into the cream mixture, spoon into pretty serving glasses and chill until needed. Decorate with extra zest, curls of white chocolate, or whatever . . .
Light, fluffy, lemony and very, very scrummy!

Friday morning

Where *has* the week gone? Incredible!!
It's been a very mousse-y week. It's going to finish in that way too. After my semi-success at a lemon mousse earlier, I trawled and found a recipe that is a lot more fattening (it has double cream as well as lemon, sugar and egg white) but looks as if it will be much more stable, so I'm going to give it a go today. I love lemon stuff and it will be good if I can find an easy recipe that actually works without too much hassle. Perhaps I can cut down on the double cream.

Apart from that, it's a morning in front of the computer trying to sort out the hustings questions and then out to do the work postponed from yesterday, fingers crossed. It looks dry outside, thank goodness.
I'm afraid my list of things to do hit the crash barriers very early on although I have managed to do some important stuff.
Better get on with it then!

Thursday, 18 February 2010

Thursday evening


. . . and I didn't get many of those plans realised as it was raining all day, most of the time. NOT a day for moving stuff from shed to garage! Never mind, as I was feeling a bit rough, on and off, maybe it was just as well I had to stay in the warm and dry.

Chocolate mousse - yummy yum yum! And so very easy. I think it would be nice with a little real orange essence (or orange oil) added, or the lemon equivalent. But it's certainly one I will do next weekend when my parents come to stay. And did I say it was easy and very delicious. I see what Raymond meant about killing it with bad chocolate though. Not one to make with cake chocolate!


I wish this stupid cough would ease up!




Thursday morning

. . . and I must be up and doing. I want to sweep out the garage and transfer a whole load of stuff from the shed into the garage. After all, who uses garages for cars nowadays (smile)?
After that, I hope there will be enough space in the shed to clear out the small chest freezer and then attack it with a hair dryer. That's the theory.
And the gastronomic challenge for the day is making that chocolate mousse. It was supposed to be yesterday but the lemon one took over!
And in between all that, I need to be on FC to keep tabs on the Virtual Hustings questions.

All that should keep me well out of trouble, I sincerely hope!

Wednesday, 17 February 2010

Wednesday evening

Another day over. This half term is going quickly!

The lemon mousse was really tasty after it had chilled. The main problem was that it split, so needed remixing (just with a spoon was enough) before eating. That meant that it hadn't really 'set' so it was like eating lemon foam, somewhat insubstantial. Very, very nice though and might make a good topping for something like meringue and fruit as well as nice on its own, to finish a meal off with something light and fluffy.

After a late start to the day (for me), I thought I'd spend most of it sleeping, but actually that hasn't happened - definitely a sign of recovery. So I should sleep well tonight!

Lemon mousse


I asked if I could just fold the whisked egg white into lemon curd to make a mousse and the answer is yes, it works, but the result is - er - just like light, fluffy lemon curd. Rather sweet! I added some lemon juice which cut into the sweetness a bit, but it doesn't quite have the citrus tang I would like. A sharper base would work better.

Basically it is two egg whites, two good tbsp lemon curd and some lemon juice and it made two portions (so that's one for lunch and one for dinner!). Sorry about the naff photo - the mousse is fluffy all the way down.
More pondering - I wonder what it would be like with marmalade . . .

Wednesday morning

. . . and I slept until 7:15 this morning. A most rare occurrence. And I'm feeling a bit better, more just weary, listless and lethargic than anything else now. One more day out of the loop and I'll be back with it again.

I watched the Raymond Blanc programme on BBC2 on Monday. It was interesting, but I didn't find it all that friendly and 'accessible'. Perhaps it was a bit too 'cheffy' for me, I don't know. However, I am going to make the chocolate mousse (has anyone ever seen such HUGE slabs of chocolate before?) as it looks easy and delicious and might slip down a sore throat easily. You can watch it here and the recipe is here. I am reducing the amount quite a lot - I don't want to make that much and I don't have seven eggs!!

I'm just pondering as to whether one could make an equally yummy looking lemon mouse by simply folding egg whites into lemon curd. After all, I have a jar to eat up within the next fortnight!

Apart from that, today is resting and trying to get up to date with the washing and the ironing. So better get started by bringing it all downstairs. Out of sight, out of mind is very true where I am concerned. Maybe, if I keep falling over it all, I will get it done!

Tuesday, 16 February 2010

Gutted

As said earlier this morning, I was going to have DG round for the night but can't because of not being well.
I sent an email and a text message to DD to let her know as early as I could. However, I got a joyous phone call from DG, asking me if he could bring some pancake mix round when he came so we could make pancakes. Oooooohhhhhh. I'm afraid I copped out and asked to speak to DD who then explained to DG. I feel so sad - we would have had a lovely time. DD said later he was OK about it, but I wonder. I know how upset he can get when things change, especially when he's looking forward to it, and how hard it can be to explain to him. DD probably had plans too which will now come to nothing.

So, at present, there's a lonely chicken roasting (because it needed cooking today) and just me to enjoy it. And no pancakes, because I haven't the energy!

All together now . . . aaaaahhhhhhhhhhh.
End of pity party!

Mutter, mutter . . . and FMC 6


This virus, whatever it is, has really taken hold now. I had one of those unpleasant nights where the dreams are vivid, repetitive and very irrational and the distance between sleep and wakefulness is confusingly short. If I wasn't over hot, I was over cold and however I lay, I ached all over. Nasty! I'm supposed to have DG overnight tonight and teach him how to roast a chicken. but it ain't going to happen now.


On to more pleasant things: I did another FMC last night. The pork with mild spices. It was really tasty; nothing too strong as the title suggests, but full of flavour. It was a lot nicer than the photo suggests!


As for today, well, I don't really know now. I was going to spend the whole day in school, but no way now. I suspect I'll be catching up on sleep and generally resting in the hopes that whatever it is will get bored, give up and leave! And the sooner the better . . .


Monday, 15 February 2010

And here's the recipe . . .

Microwave lemon curd

Ingredients:
3 oz butter
8 oz caster sugar
3 eggs
2 lemons

Method
Finely grate the zest from both lemons. Squeeze the juice from the lemons* and add to the zest.** Beat together the sugar, eggs and lemon juice and zest.
Melt the butter in a 2.5 pint bowl on high for about 1.5 mins.
Stir lemon, sugar and egg mixture into butter, mixing well.
Cook on high for about three minutes until the mixture thickens to coat the back of a spoon. Stir briskly every 30 seconds to incorporate thickened bits into the whole mixture. It really starts to thicken after about 2 mins. The regular stirring is essential, otherwise you end up with sweet lemon scrambled eggs!
Pour into small, warmed jars, seal and label.
Store in a fridge for up to two weeks.
Makes about 1 lb of lemon curd.

*I always cut the lemons in half, put them cut side down on a plate and microwave for 1 minute. You get loads more juice that way. I don't know why, but you do!

** You can strain the zest out, but I like it with the zest left in. Years ago I got slated at a village show for leaving the zest in, but it tastes nicer so I always do it, lady-judge to the contrary notwithstanding!

Yummy yum!



Say no more.
Recipe to follow.


One down, one to go!

I now have a fully functioning range again, which is great! To celebrate, I am heating up some home made baked beans on one of the previously inert rings, to have on toast for an early lunch (beans, not ring).

The other is the gas man - and they don't have a wonderful reputation for punctuality! He's supposed to come today!! Fingers crossed. Shameful as it is, I was more concerned about the oven than the gas! ;0)

A little addition

I found this recipe while trawling through the blogs I follow. I gather that in the USA coffee cake is not coffee flavoured cake, it's cake that you can eat with coffee (so just about everything, in fact) and it looks so yummy I have saved the recipe, converted the cup measures to decimal measures (thank you, Google) and intend to get the ingredients I need to make it. What is nicer is that it doesn't have to be cranberries, it could be any fruit, and I will make it in a round tin rather than a tray. I'll let you know!

With DG coming to stay over on Tuesday night, I need something for dessert and this will fit the bill, topped by some delicious, creamy, Greek yogurt.

Monday morning

Good morning. What an icy cold start to the day! There's a heavy frost and it must have been very cold through the night because when I staggered to the loo in the middle of the night the radiators were on.

So - today. First day of the holidays, officially! It's going to start with washing my hair as it feels grubby and grimy, then I need to finish the kitchen ready for the oven repair chap. After that it will be general cleaning and tidying followed by moving stuff from the shed to the garage and then stuff from the house to the shed or to the garage, whichever is more appropriate. Hope it warms up a bit before I start! Actually, thinking about it, I won't be able to get out until the gas man has been as I'm not likely to hear him knock from the back garden., so it may or may not get done.

I have some lemons to use up so will make some lemon curd this afternoon, probably by the microwave method, which is so very quick and easy. You get everything ready and mixed together and then you cook it in the microwave, stirring every 30 seconds. This is essential if you don't want to end up with lemon flavoured scrambled egg!

Breakfast will be a mushroom omelette, lunch probably beans on toast and dinner will be the pork with spices recipe I mentioned yesterday Maybe I can get my eating back on track this week - if I plan in here it might help a bit.

Better go and start the first bit - hair washing!

Sunday, 14 February 2010

Sunday evening

I'm sitting at the PC luxuriating in the fact that I don't need to set that alarm tonight, I don't need to worry about getting to bed early in order to have enough sleep overnight and I don't have piles of resources all piled up waiting to be taken to school for the week's work.

What I do have waiting for me tomorrow is a visit from the oven man to (hopefully) repair my Rangemaster (four rings don't work) and the gas man to 'upgrade' (whatever that may mean) my gas meter. In-between times there's washing, ironing, dusting and sweeping.

And I think I fancy making some lemon curd - DD loves it as does DG, so a few jars will be welcomed, I'm sure. I needed to get some Greek yogurt, for cooking with so it had to be the full variety, not the 0% fat, and it's gorgeously creamy. Some of that with some lemon curd folded in will make a scrummy dessert or two this week.

And finally, as I had some of the pork in cider today, I will make the quick pork with mild spices tomorrow as a catch up F M C.

No photos of the kittens, sadly. The cough has returned and I've been feeling a little less than 100% most of the day, so I didn't go over. No point spreading germs!

Sunday morning

Not so early awake today, not so badly slept either, thank goodness. Also, not so rushed and no pressure to look at the planning and make sure everything is ready, which leaves me feeling a bit empty, so I guess I'll be banging on with the spider planning to get as much done as I possibly can.
The pork in the slow cooker is done: falling apart and melt in the mouth. The sauce is now reducing in a saucepan with added red peppers and some sliced mushrooms to add just before it is ready.
Now, I'm not sure whether to have one portion for lunch and then freeze the rest in single portions, or to freeze the lot and make another FMC, quick pork with mild spices. I've got all morning to decide!

Apart from the above, it's more housework and then tea with DD and more kitten loving! Hopefully, I will remember to take my camera this time and come back with something worth putting on here.

Saturday, 13 February 2010

FMC 5 update and other


This was a very simple recipe, nothing challenging in the way of cooking or preparing.
I'd got it into my head that the mixture needed marinading for a while but, in fact, it didn't say that. I did marinade it and I think it was the nicer for it.
A lovely fresh tangy flavour - I didn't add too much chilli, just enough to be 'there' and the lemon and lime gave it a wonderful zing. Another to do again at some point, maybe for guests at some point..
I added some mushroom at the end and the cheat was that I used chilli puree as I realised I had forgotten to buy any fresh

Also this afternoon I 'created' (hardly a radical creation though) a recipe for pork shoulder steaks. I had five of them, on special in Morrisons.
So I chopped some onion and slowly softened them in a pan with some butter and some garlic. I peeled, cored and sliced some apples and added them to the mixture. After putting them into the bottom of the slow cooker, I turned the heat up and browned the steaks on both sides before laying them on top of the onion. Then in went the cider which simmered for a while to get all the nice meaty bits from the pan before that also joined the onion, apple and meat. To it all I added one star anise, a stick of cinnamon and some pepper, plus some demerara sugar and some marigold low sodium bouillon powder. Finally, in went half of the contents of a can of unsweetened sliced apple. It's going to cook slowly over night and then, in the morning, I will add some chopped, mixed pepper and some mushroom, softened in a little butter or oil.
That's it really. It should taste really rather yum, judging by the smell already wafting from the kitchen.

Photo: The creamy masala chicken, all a pleasant memory now

FMC 5 Creamy masala chicken

This will be a James Martin recipe, found in a booklet enclosed with the BBC Good Food magazine late last year. Creamy Masala Chicken
You can find it here: It seems to be a very old recipe judging by what it says at the foot of the page, but it feels just the ticket for the first day of the half term holiday. The coriander may have to be dried (if they have some in Morrisons, I'll get it and freeze the remains) and I'll have to buy the chicken and the double cream, but I have all the rest of the ingredients. It says to serve with rice AND naan - I'll stick with one or the other, I think. Also, a bonus, it looks easy enough to cut down to one portion.
It means I have to go shopping early as the chicken needs marinating for eight hours or so - this looks to be the one disadvantage really!

Other FMCs I fancy trying from the same source include quick pork with mild spices, mustard stuffed chicken and Moroccan lamb. The new food mags are in the shops now, so I can do some more research.

Apart from that, I will do housework and sleep for moist of today, hopefully not at the same time. I had quite a bad night due to some sort of mini tummy bug, so am feeling weary. That will pass!

Friday, 12 February 2010

Friday late afternoon

Done and home! I can't say my talk was highly inspirational (it wasn't) but it was OK and no-one argued or told me I'd got stuff wrong or anything like that. All in all, it was actually a jolly useful morning although it took a lot longer than envisaged.

After that we were supposed to add objectives to our Medium Term Planning sheets (which are in the form of theme 'spiders'). Well - in our eagerness not to have too many bits of paper, Liz and I crowded the text boxes on to each page so, in order to add the objectives, I was having to move stuff around when there really wasn't the space. On top of that, I went home to work as Liz wasn't at school, and my home PC took a dislike to the Autumn 2 spider and kept freezing on me half way through without saving what I'd done. After the second disaster I printed off the original and started from a blank page and found that it's actually a lot easier than trying to rearrange. I think if I had mind mapping software it would be easier, but I don't!

I wasn't the only one to find it very hard and slow going. N (our deputy head) could see her carefully time-structured plan for the day crashing around her and very sensibly gave up her expectation that by three o'clock she would have six bee-yoo-ti-ful theme spiders from each year group and told us we would use the first two staff meetings of next half term to carry on with it all.

I was so relieved. As soon as she outlined the day to us this morning, I knew I would have huge problems getting even half of it done. Turns out I wasn't the only one which makes me feel a whole load better!

So, although I have three and a half spiders still to sort out, the time pressure is off. I still intend to get them all done this half term as then Liz and I can add the 'new' PSHE and RE stuff together. And I know that there will be enough room on the page too. :0)

I like properly done paperwork and feel that what we're doing can be useful. The only thing that bothers me more than slightly is that we're spending all this time on something that is likely to change as we get new ideas for activities. I, for one, find the thought of delivering exactly the same lessons each year dire. I'm always looking for different routes, different ideas, different activities. Really we're recording what we have done, rather than what we plan to do! But I guess that's the name of the game!!

Friday morning

Plenty of precipitation overnight, but not of the kind that would close the school.
So heigh ho, off I go to bore the teeth off my colleagues for two minutes! Hopefully everyone else will be more interesting than I.
And then it's planning, planing, planning. Wonderful!

Thursday, 11 February 2010

Thursday evening

The half term is ended, all bar tomorrow's little fun day. I have prepared a talk that is going to take all of two minutes to deliver (so much for the 'only 5 - 10 minutes' we were told to reduce it down to) on groovy geography, found a few bits of assessment stuff to hand out and, hopefully, that will be satisfactory. If not, I will be mortified but, dear me, life will go on!

We had a lovely afternoon. After seeing the fun they had with the magnets yesterday, I did an impromptu, unplanned lesson making moving pictures with paper, paper clips and a magnet. You know the sort of thing - draw and colour a background (which most of them did really well), draw a character or object that you want to move, cut out the character, sellotape a paper clup to the back and make it move across the setting using a magnet behind the paper. As an added bonus, they were allowed to take their creation home with them (but not the magnet!).
It was just the thing for the last afternoon of the half term - productive, creative, a mixture of science, art and design technology and just plain fun to do. They were so happy playing with their moving pictures afterwards and some were superb! There were some original ideas and some which matched the creator to a T - the child who made a flying cat, the lad who made an ice cream van drive along the beach, the lad who did his teddy bear walking around his bedroom - not to mention various sharks, bats, fish, rockets and a most friendly looking three-eyed monster from an alien planet.

And now I have no planning for tomorrow. Feels great!

Thursday morning

The last teaching day of the half term. And unless something dramatic happens in the next hour, no snow day!
The children are so tired and several are just mildly under the weather. Not enough to stay off from school, just enough to make them listless and weary. They woke up a bit yesterday while we were doing a magnetism investigation. Magnets can do some funny things at times, including making a paper clip jump! And trying to get the two blue ends or the two red ends together caused great hilarity and some puzzlement!

Today, I think, I will ride them easy - they're not fit for anything very intensive. And nor am I!

Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Wednesday evening

. . . and well past my bedtime. So just to say that it's snowing here. Snow day tomorrow? Who knows?

Tuesday, 9 February 2010

Tuesday evening

Quite a tiring day with one ray of bright sunlight. I have a Dear Little Child who struggles a bit with the more formal aspects of the Y1 curriculum. Well, when I say 'a bit' I really mean 'quite a lot'. In fact, half way through last term I was seriously worried about her.

Today I was assessing her against the targets on her last IEP and, you know, much to my delight, she has achieved them all and gone further. Fantastic. So I grabbed her mum after school and we had an impromptu review meeting. She (mum) was so pleased and so was the D L C, who beamed her way through the short meeting. You could see her confidence increasing as we spoke. And then she looked at me, smiled shyly and said 'I do love you, Mrs Clark'. Aaaaahhhhh. Made my day, it did!

That's all most teachers need. A little bit of appreciation for our efforts. It's not just a job, it's so much more, and to know that we've made a difference - well, what more could one ask for?

Monday, 8 February 2010

Monday morning

The start of the last week before half term. It's a four day teaching week with Friday being a training day, focusing on The Curriculum. All the foundation subject coordinators have to give a little 'back to basics' spiel about their subject. It makes sense really. The change to a theme based delivery of the curriculum, moving from delivery using the evil QCA materials, plus the fact that a number of us have new curriculum responsibilities this year, means that we should focus on what the National Curriculum says we must teach. The feeling is that our understanding might have got a bit 'foggy' and going back the basic requirements will be very helpful.
So, seeing as I know next to nothing about my new area (geography - spit, spit), I'm having to learn fast. Luckily it's all there, in the booklet, I just have to regurgitate it!

Apart from that, I hope the week will prove as uneventful as possible. I could do with a bit of settled peace. I have my SEN day on Tuesday and my hour for Key Stage work on Wednesday, but I will have to commit that to SEN as last week I used some SEN time to start sorting the tip around the Y1 bays.

Sunday, 7 February 2010

Sunday evening

. . . and I didn't get the FMC done. Never mind, I can catch up over half term.

Sunday morning




I realise I haven't even started to think of a FMC recipe this week. As it's very early still, I might hop back to bed shortly to get a bit more sleep and also to browse through the mags for some inspiration.

In February's Good Food there's a lovely recipe for rhubarb and vanilla jam. It needs commercial pectin but apart from that it looks simple enough. Must look out for rhubarb in the shop. I used to have a clump of rhubarb in the garden. It was there when I bought the house back in the mid-eighties and I couldn't kill it off, however much I neglected it. Sadly, it had to go when the garden was redone.

It (the recipe) takes a lot of rhubarb - 1kg of it - so I'll probably halve and hope. Together with the blackberry jam and the two marmalades, I don't really need any more, but it's the making as much as the eating and it would make an interesting gift. I still have a whole load of blackberries in the freezer so I might think about making a clear jelly with them, rather than pushing them through a sieve for a jam.


Photo: The corner that isn't yet tidy - we are waiting on the new home corner furniture before we can sort that out.

Saturday, 6 February 2010

Saturday evening





And here's the evidence of several hours of hard work on one item in the list. The rest didn't get done, but not worries, half term is coming up soon!






One new cupboard with paper drawers underneath - that is, drawers FOR paper, not made of . . . outside -


And inside






And inside part of the floor to ceiling cupboards - as below.




It's all very nice but I do wonder how long it will stay tidy.

Saturday morning

Somehow I have missed two days' worth of blog. Life has been pretty frantic one way and another, both in Real Life and online.

On Wednesday evening Sister Act was amazing. We had the best ever time. It was so bright and funny and the scenery changes were just out of this world, so very clever and seamless. We had time to pop into a little Italian eating place before the show and I had a delicious pizza calzone - it came on a huge plate and I had to leave more than half of it! A red bull in the interval helped me to stay awake to the end of the show (oh, yes, I can fall asleep just about anywhere if I'm tired) and the coach ride home was uneventful. However, I don't recommend teaching on about four hour's sleep unless it's unavoidable!

In school, the new cupboards are finished and look super - well, they will when the surrounding chaos has been cleared up. Guess what I will be doing today! It's no fun, working in a mess and I will be glad to get it all sorted. I have a little list which reads:
Creativity Club notice
Topic files
Clear table
Find house sheet
Clear orange tray
Display
Laminate pictures
Prepare Geog talk
Move art resources
Clear mess.
I guess the chances of me getting all that done today are minimal, so a bit of prioritising is on the cards.

All of the about, combined with some fun and frolics on FirstClass have combined to make this a most intensive week - and to cap it all, I think I'm going down with yet another cold! The cough is back and the aches and shivers are just round the corner most of the time!
Oh, well, such is life!

Wednesday, 3 February 2010

Wednesday morning

It was a bit manic in school yesterday.
The way the year 1 resources are organised is very much a hodgepotch. There are cupboards of all shapes and sizes, shelves, piles of rubbish. Also, Y1 is kind of the poor relation in terms of appropriate resources that don't relate to maths or literacy. While Foundation Stage has a wonderful array of construction, role play, small world and other resources, Y1 has very little. That's not a moan, it's a fact.
Anyway, what with schools being forced to spend all the money that they had reserved for ongoing projects before the end of the financial year or have most of it clawed back, and LEAs in the same position downloading extra money to schools so that as they (the schools) get spend some another load comes in, we're in the jolly position of having to spend quite a lot.
An exciting outcome of this is that the year 1 resources storage is in the middle of a major overhaul - by that I mean the results will be exciting. The mess is far from exciting at the moment. Large, built in, floor to ceiling cupboards are being built - the first set were done yesterday and the other will be done Friday. That will take a little longer as it will have A1 sized paper drawers but should be done in the day. And guess what I will be doing on Saturday.
So - yesterday there were resources all over the place as the existing storage was moved and the first cupboards were put in. I took some of my SEN time to start sorting out the mess and excited plans were made for what to do with the existing storage, most of which is perfectly usable and in good order.
Alongside that, Liz and I have put in quite a big order for resources. Home corner furniture and equipment, small world stuff, lots more lego . . . oh, all sorts of stuff. AND - it's been approved!
We're going to be jolly busy over half term, but it's worth it, so worth it!

And tonight is Sister Act - leaving straight from school and getting back at some unearthly hour! It's going to be hard to keep awake tomorrow!

No photo but I'll try to remember to take one of the new cupboards.

Tuesday, 2 February 2010

Tuesday evening

. . . and you know what - until after school, I had completely forgotten that tomorrow most of the staff are whizzing off to London after school to see Sister Act at the Palladium. Staff meeting will take place on the coach (not, I hope). Fun!

Monday, 1 February 2010

Interesting

. . . how a day can so suddenly turn from nice to nasty. Oh, well, that's life, I guess . . . ho hum!

Monday evening

It's been a pretty good day at school, one way and another. For a start, it was sunny again, and I'm beginning to realise that this makes a huge difference to my personal well being. I used not to feel like this - must be getting old or something.
Secondly, DD popped into school later on this afternoon, after shopping in Morrisons (just opposite the school). It's always lovely to see DD and it cheers me up so much.
Thirdly, my class tried very hard with their writing this morning, much to my delight and pleasure.
And fourthly, a very good and trusted friend told me something that someone said about me that makes me feel really chuffed . . .

I'm sure the clouds will return, but today was sunny, in all ways.