Saturday, 31 December 2011

Under the sink . . .

It wasn't absolutely diabolical, was it?  No, it wasn't, it was just rather untidy and disorganised.  It's a useful space that would be a lot more useful if it wasn't for the water softener - not that I'm complaining about that, far from it!  The main trouble was that you just couldn't tell what was in there and things were beginning to stack one on top of another.  Also, all the clothes washing things were being kept on the counter, not looking particularly 'right' there, just because there was no room underneath.

So out came everything.  I can't do anything about the pipery at the back but I did sweep out and then wash the floor of the cupboard.  Believe me, kneeling on a bit of granular salt is as painful as kneeling on a bit of glass.  Ouch!

Then things got sorted.  Can anyone tell me why I have three bottles of hob cleaner (which is also great for shining the sink!), two of window cleaner (that I don't use), goodness how many Vanish cleaning sticks, two Pledge aerosols, two Mr Muscle plughole cleaner thingies, several boxes of stuff to clean out the dishwasher and/or washing machine and so many scourers I won't need to get any more for years . . .?  No, nor can I . . .
. . .  see what I mean!

Anyhow, after lots of sorting, checking, chucking and wiping, here it is now:
It's never going to look pretty, it's not that sort of space, but it's now organised.  The washing stuff is on the left, things I won't need very often are all at the back and there's even space for the washing up liquid and spray cleaner which is currently in a nice white container to the left of the sink.

Several things went into my housework box.  I know it's hard to believe, but I do actually have a very organised box for general cleaning and housework.  It's really one of those open tool boxes with a handle and in it I have polish, cleaner, various cloths for all sorts of tasks, window cleaner, Dyson attachments and two socks.  Why socks?  You obviously didn't watch 'the Perfect Housewife' if you have to ask that!

And there's now one thing left out. 
It must have come with the range when it was put in, I'd never, ever buy such a titchy bottle of stuff.  And it's sitting on the side because I intend to use it later on.  Where did I put the de-icer that is next to it for size comparison purposes?  In the car, of course - what it was doing under the sink in the first place I will never know!

And I am NOT taking bets on how long it will stay like that, OK!!!

(In case anyone is wondering, those two switches on the left are my gloriously accessible stopcocks.  One for the mains water and one for the outside tap.  Reassuringly convenient.)

Saturday morning and the end of the year

. . . and I'm a bit later than usual, having slept on a bit more than usual and also having set to in the kitchen to do the first things on the daily checklist (empty the dishwasher and put EVERYTHING away - tick) and then to make some cheese biscuits for this evening.  The first lot is in the oven, the timer is ticking merrily beside me and the house is smelling fantastic!  As it's a special evening, I've used my fancy cutters and made little shapes of flowers, circles, stars and hearts which should look lovely on a decorative plate.

As I open my fridge door, I feel a great sense of satisfaction, sad person that I am.  Inside it all is in perfect order, jars are all within use by date, things are arranged logically instead of bunged wherever they will go and the shelves are sparkling clean!  I wonder how long that will last.  Next job on the list is the cupboard under the sink!  Ho hum!

I've decided to start my checklist on a Saturday, so the new one is sitting beside me, ready to go up on the fridge.  There's a new addition - it says 'ten books out or tidied'.  Anyone who has seen my book room will know exactly what that means!

Right, better go and put the second lot of cheesy things in, tidy up behind myself and start on that cupboard.  I might even take a before/after photo or two!

Friday, 30 December 2011

Friday morning

So here we are, on the last day of the Christmas break.  I don't count the weekend or the Bank Holiday as we'd get them anyway.  It's been a good break, despite a few hiccups of varying severities, and I feel that for once it hasn't all been frittered away on idleness.

Yesterday I didn't get done what I'd planned (i.e. sorting out the fridge) so that's on today's list, but I did get my bedroom sorted plus giving the kitchen a good tidy and clean and getting all the washing done and dried, so it wasn't exactly a waste of time and at the end of the day I had quite a sense of achievement. 

Someone pointed me in the way of an interesting blog, 'A Slob Comes Clean', which, from what I have already read, seems to be written by a girl after my own heart (even if it is American, it's not as overly American as some of them are which means I can relate to it better).  I know that at my age I really ought to have all those good habits ingrained and established, but I haven't (maybe something to do with spending most of my adult life at work rather than at home), so I'm hoping that some of the tips and advice will help.  For example, I now have a daily checklist up on the fridge and yesterday I was able to tick everything off.  Will it help longer term?  We will see but I guess I have my New Year Resolution!

The daily checklist on the fridge door.  The other two are the recycling notices!
Later in the afternoon DD and DG came over.  DD grabbed some larger bits of card from the recycling sack (due to be collected today) and brought me round some purple sprouting broccoli from her garden - yum yum!  We popped off to Matalan to see what was in the sale and I found a winter jacket/anorak thing that was reduced from £40 to £8, which I was pleased with, plus some slippers, much needed in the colder weather, especially before the house heats up each morning.  I then went round to the gym to cancel my membership, something I've been intending to do for months.  I felt sad about this but I don't use it and it's just been a waste of money over the last months.

So today it's the daily checklist, the fridge and also I want to tackle the cupboard under the sink, which is dire!  I have to take the sheets and quilt covers round to Donna for ironing and I have a little bit of shopping to do too, so we have a few nibbles in for New Year's Eve.  Food is bacon and egg for breakfast (the bacon needs to be used up), turkey hotpot for lunch and something with the broccoli for dinner - I haven't thought what yet.

So I'd better go and start on the fridge, while my resolution is strong!  Planning?  What planning?

Thursday, 29 December 2011

Thursday morning

I don't think I'm totally over that cold yet - at the moment I'm aching a bit.  Nothing too bad but it's getting me down rather.  Fortunately, I have enough going on to keep my mind off it, which is more than half the battle.

Well, the turkey is now no more and I have some useful single portions of roast turkey in gravy and turkey hotpot, not to mention some dripping and some stock which will be useful for soups.  Three cheers for freezers!   Today is the day to sort out the rest of the fridge as there are still some post Chrisrtmas things that either need eating or freezing.  I suspect my kitchen waste box will take a battering today.  Also today I have to finish washing and drying all the bedding from last weekend, as tomorrow it's going off to a lady for ironing - my New Year gift to myself.  And my bedroom needs attention too, or it will start becoming a dump again and that I do NOT want to happen.

And there's this little voice inside me that has been silent for a couple of weeks whispering 'planning'.  Oh, drat!!!!

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Wednesday: rest of the day - an ongoing diary.

8:45:  I cannot believe how much meat there was left on the turkey.  It's provided a big meal for seven (one of the party is vegetarian), another big meal for four, Middle Brother and Parents have all gone home with loads of turkey, DD's cats have had a good ration and there's still piles to deal with.  The rest of the white meat has now been sliced (sort of) and what could be pulled off in chunks has been.  The rest, skin, bones and all, is slowly simmering away in my biggest pan.  There's a good bowl of turkey dripping and a large jug of gravy.  It may be an organic, free range, molto expensivo special purchase but it provides the basis for many a tasty meal and I am looking forward to a good dinner tonight of 'left over' turkey heated in its own gravy with potatoes and sweet potatoes roasted in turkey dripping, sprouts and cranberry sauce (home made, of course!).
I cannot understand why people don't make the most of the turkey (or chicken).  I know people who eat the breast meat, perhaps pull off the drumsticks and eat them and then the rest goes straight into the bin.  What an unnecessary waste of good food!
However, all is not shiny and perfect in Kitchen World.  I opened the cupboard that houses the washing machine only to discover that, to my shame, there's a pile of washing already in there.  Seeing as I have not opened that cupboard since last Friday . . . ooops!  It's now undergoing a quick wash to freshen it all up!  Oh, dear.
The coffee maker has passed another test - it's keeping the coffee piping hot.  Hotter than the old one did.  I'm trying to work out when I bought it and failing miserably.  I must have had it for a good decade or so.  Pretty good value for money, I would say.

10:25:   There's now a nice big pan of what will be turkey hotpot simmering away.  It's not the usually accepted version of hotpot with potato on the top, but basically a chunky (very chunky) soup that is a meal in itself.  It's a family tradition going back to my childhood and probably before, something that by brothers and I used to look forward to every year after Christmas.  I've used onion, potato, sweet potato, parsnip, swede, celery and carrot, all cut into chunks and first fried in a mixture of turkey and bacon fat before the turkey stock is added and the whole thing covered and brought to a gentle simmer.  Later on I will add some red lentils to give more flavour, colour and body, big chunks of turkey and whatever seasonings are required.  What doesn't get eaten in the next few days will freeze beautifully.  The whole house is smelling a lot like Christmas again.

11:10:  OK, so the carcass has had its first simmer, I've removed all the meat and the stock, bones and so on are now back on a very low heat to simmer for ages and ages to get as much flavour out of the bones as possible.  I think it's time I had my bath and got dressed.

16:50:  And there is now a pot of turkey soup/hotpot/whatever you call it, a container of turkey scraps for DD's cats and a lovely bowl of stock.  Since I didn't have any lunch, I guess I will have some of the hotpot for dinner and the planned meal can wait.

And now I'm signing off.

Wednesday morning

Bin day today.  Bin day is usually Monday but, what with Christmas and the New Year, the collection days are going to be more than a bit unsettled for a while, both for the usual black bin rubbish and for all the recycling stuff.  There seems to much to recycle nowadays.  Card goes in one sack, paper in another.  Garden rubbish goes in the brown bin.  Plastic goes in the plastic bags provided.  Metal and glass must be put in the green box.  Finally, food waste now has its own bin too - a small grey bin into which you have to put a special (provided) bag which, when full, is tied at the top and placed into a slightly larger green container which is kept outside and has a secure lid to keep the rats out (shudder).  I was well pleased to see that over the last six days, with a household of eight to feed for much of the time, I only needed to throw away one bag's worth of food waste and some of that was peelings I couldn't be bothered to take to the compost heap.

So, anyway, yesterday I remembered and out to the front went the black bin, the brown bin and the kitchen waste bin.  Now I have to remember the card sack and the green box on Friday.  It's always harder to remember when the usual routines are disrupted.

I was on a mission yesterday.  Over the last three or four days I became aware that after I had made a pot of coffee, around the bottom of the coffee maker there was a little puddle of clear water.  At first I thought I must have spilt a little as I poured the cold water into the coffee maker but on Monday it was evident that the machine was actually leaking and, when we investigated, there was a split in the plastic casing.  Darn it, it's been a good coffee maker over the years, giving honourable service time and time again but now, sadly, it needs to go to that great big coffee plantation in the sky.
So, my mission was to get another filter coffee makers.  Thank goodness my needs are simple because there is such a choice ranging from bog standard water in, coffee out machines to ones that make seven different kinds of coffee while you toast your bread (and with price tags to match).  As far as I am concerned, all I want is a machine that happily accepts ground coffee and water one end and gives me a pot of steaming hot coffee the other end; no need for fancy timers, strength settings or anything like that.  Good old Google, where would we be without it?  I found what I wanted and decided to look in Comet first before ordering online if necessary,  That was a silly decision - as I drove up to Comet, the access road was chock-a-block with queues stretching for several hundred metres.  Fortunately I was able to do a quick lane change and head off the opposite way towards Sainsburys where I was able to get exactly what I wanted, reduced too.  I'm drinking my first mug of coffee from it at the moment and realise I need to up the amount of coffee I put in, as it's bigger than my old one and makes quite a lot more coffee.  I will learn!

That was yesterday's big adventure.  The other main event was that my parents went home and I now have the house to myself.  Yesterday evening was rather lonely really, but I slept very well and was able to keep my bedroom door open all night, something I like to do but can't really when there are visitors staying.

And today's big task will be Dealing With The Turkey.  The annual and enjoyable exercise in frugality, making the very most of every little bit of turkey that can be extracted from the carcass.  I will slice the remaining white meat, take off as much of the brown as I can and then the rest will simmer for hours and hours in my big pot until the remaining meat has fallen off and the bones and other inedible bits can be thrown away.  The stock will reduce down to a strong jelly and be frozen in small portions and the meat will be frozen in gravy for future use.  All this using up turns a pretty expensive purchase into much better value for money, apart from the fun of it all.

Better get started, I suppose.  Have a good day, one and all.

Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Target Tuesday

These target days come round so quickly!

Last week's were:
  • To continue to sort out the books.  That was a silly one, seeing as my brother has been using the yellow bedroom where all the books are, but I did manage to sort a few more and will continue to do so this week.
  • To declutter the cupboard under the stairs.  Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha .  Er - no!
  • Keep working on keeping my bedroom tidy.  Actually this one is OK - there's a few bits and bobs in there that belong in another bedroom but which were moved out because of my guests, but that's OK.  I really hope I am getting there with my bedroom.

So on to this week.  I think it's the two that have carried over plus a necessary one.
  • To continue to sort out the books
  • To declutter the cupboard under the stairs
  • To generally sort out the house after Christmas - this involved just little things but plenty of them.  I suppose the washing isn't a little thing but I'm getting an enterprising local lady to do the ironing for me (she runs a small business from home).

Monday, 26 December 2011

Boxing Day

A new take on an old story.  Forget bad King Herod, the threat now appears to be of total extermination from the bad Blue Dalek.  Will the Daleks change the face of history for ever?  Will the shepherds and the wise men combine forces to fight this threat?  Or is the Dalek simply bringing his own offering for the Baby?  What will the Doctor do?  Is this a preview of next year's Christmas special?   
Watch this space.

Yesterday was lovely.  A long day.  Jolly hard work.  But lovely.  For once I had the meal on the table within ten minutes of the expected time (it's a bit of a family joke that I say a time and then serve it up an hour later . . .).  The food was scrumptious and there's loads of leftovers so I won't have to do very much cooking at all.  For several days, probably.  The Kelly turkey was, as always, utterly delicious.  There were three different kinds of stuffing: mine, mum's and a vegetarian one for DD.  There were zillions of vegetables, I managed fine with one oven and Handy Andy (blessings be upon him) and was able to use the other oven for keeping things warm..  And I got through the whole day, from four o'clock onward without having a snooze!

Now it's Boxing Day.  There will just be five of us today.  Leftovers and other easily produced stuff - and I bet we all snooze on and off all day long.  Lovely!  Have a good day, everyone, and don't work too hard!

Sunday, 25 December 2011

Christmas Day

Everything is done and if it isn't it won't be now!  Yesterday was a bit of a rush in the morning but nice and relaxing in the afternoon.  All my visitors turned up on time.  DS and A made incredibly delicious pizza for us all (proper pizza, from scratch) and, bless them, left the kitchen spick and span, a kindly touch which I very much appreciated.  DD brought along the sprouts from her allotment and they are now all prepared for cooking.  They're small, firm, little button sprouts which should taste fantastic.  Four of the items on the Christmas dinner table will have been grown by her - the sprouts, the potatoes, the parsnips and the red cabbage.  Thank you very much, love, we're all looking forward to them.

DG brought his keyboard over and I was amazed at how far he has come in such a short time.  He's taking on the technicalities of theory too.  He announces 'I'm going to play this in D sharp major - and he does, partly by ear and partly by interval.  Most impressive.

And now the turkey is up to room temperature, the breakfast table is laid, the ingredients are out for the Christmas muffins and I am enjoying the last vestige of relaxation and quiet I am likely to get all day!

It's all starting now though.

The baby is in the manger . . .

And is it true? and is it true?
The most tremendous tale of all,
Seen in a stained-glass window's hue,
A Baby in an ox's stall?
The Maker of the stars and sea
Become a Child on earth for me?

The decorations are up (albeit a bit crookedly).
The carols are playing
The holly bears a berry
As red as any blood
And Mary bore sweet Jesus Christ
To do poor sinners good.
And I wish all my readers
A very Merry Christmas
and a
Happy, Peaceful and Satisfying
New Year

Saturday, 24 December 2011

Christmas Eve

Things To Do Today

Prepare the turkey
Make the bread sauce
Make DD's vegetarian 'option'!
Make the cheese biscuits
Make the gravy
Prepare the sprouts
Get the ingredients for the Christmas muffins ready
Remember to get the pigs in blankets and stuffing balls out of the freezer before I go to bed.

I think that's it.  Easy peasy!

Breakfast as normal.  Toast and stuff
Lunch: guess who ordered far too much Chinese take-away last night.  So that's lunch sorted.  The soup can wait for another day
Dinner.  DS and A are making pizza for us.  So I have to prepare the salad, open a packet of crisps, get out some mince pies, cake and the Christmas log and generally keep out of their way as they mess up my beautifully clean and tidy kitchen (only joking - I think)

I made some banana bread yesterday as I had several geriatric bananas.  The recipe I used looked nothing special but it was simple and the results were utterly delicious.  It is freely available online here and I can thoroughly recommend it.  I didn't have mixed dried fruit so I chopped up the remains of a packet of dried apricots and some dried cherries.  It didn't make as much dried fruit as the recipe asked for but it seemed just about right to me and the flavours go really well together.  So with that, the tea loaf, the Christmas log, the biscuits and the biscotti, I think we might possibly just have enough cake-y stuff to keep us going until Boxing Day when the shops open again

As always, Just Jules has done her customers proud.  The Christmas log looks wonderful and smells even better.  The Christmas cake that DD made is also beautiful but you'll have to wait for that photo!  :0)

Friday, 23 December 2011

Friday morning

This photo is for my friend, Al, who wanted to see it.
Well, I did it!  I woke naturally just before four and by five I was well on the way to Sainsbury's.  What I haven't got now we will have to do without - one thing's for sure, we ain't gonna starve!!

It was pretty good in Sainsbury's.  Enough shoppers to make it sociable but plenty of room to move.  I exchanged rueful 'we must be bonkers' smiles with several other shoppers, but it was well worth the effort to go early - it's going to be a heaving nightmare later.  The worst thing was the Internet shoppers, or rather the staff who were collecting the Internet shopping.  They have such huge trollies and did block the way a few times, but no complaints from me.  And now I'm home, everything has been put away and I need to plan out the rest of the day.

A loaf I put in the breadmaker when I woke this morning in the bread maker is beginning to smell almost done and when that's out I will make a wholemeal/granary loaf.  Also this morning I want to make the stock from the giblets and some chicken wings, get the turkey ready, make the biscotti and I have some VERY ripe bananas so I think I will make some banana bread - there's got to be a recipe somewhere.  Charlotte is, I sincerely hope, coming at nine to do downstairs.  That gives me time to have a coffee, a rest and read the paper that I bought as a treat as well as getting the next loaf on before she arrives.

I will leave you with a photo of the Guardians of the Christmas Tree who have been joined this year by five fleecy friends from Somerset.

Thursday, 22 December 2011

Thursday evening

The room is tidy (not clean because C is now coming tomorrow morning, but that's a minor problem), the decorations, such as they are, are out and about and about an hour ago Laura brought the two Christmas candle displays I asked her to make.  As last year, they are beautiful although the photos I've taken do not do them any justice.  Personally, I blame the lighting. After all, it cannot possibly be the way I shot them, can it????  :0)

OK, so maybe it can . . .

There's still quite a long list of things to do, but nothing too onerous apart from the last big shop (extremely early tomorrow morning).  The guests start to arrive tomorrow afternoon and it's all remarkably peaceful and unstressed right now.  I think I will put away the ironing board, turn off the lights, open a beer and watch a movie.  That sounds just about right.

Later on Thursday morning

The turkey has arrived (yay), the room is as tidy as it's ever going to be and awaits Charlotte's tender ministrations (or not so tender, I hope, when it comes to the kitchen floor!), the presents are wrapped and the crib is up.  That's where Christmas starts for me, with the crib.
Lovely, isn't it?

Thursday morning

Well, I was going to do my last lot of shopping early morning but when I woke I felt too bleugh to summon up the energy to get going.  This flippin' cold has really taken the ooomoph out of me - I'll HAVE to go tomorrow morning now and then make the biscotti that's going to finish off the hampers. 

So I've started on the living room.  As always, I've started in one corner and will methodically (ha ha) work my way through.  The big bonus is that I don't have to clean as I work through - Charlotte is back today to do all of that.  I reckon it's just about the best present I have ever given myself and one to repeat on other occasions!  So I must get the living room sorted before midday, when she is due round.  I have about six hours which is plenty long enough, even for a lazy bones like me.  I keep looking at the one tidy corner and wishing, but if wishes were horses . . . as the saying goes.

It is starting to look quite nice with the tree up and the lights twinkling, although I did rather mutter a few less-than-festive things as I was trying to lug the tree into the house yesterday.  The box it was in virtually fell apart in my hands so I promptly went online to Amazon and ordered one of those plastic Christmas tree holder bag things with zips and handles, etc.  Don't know why I didn't do it a long time before - I am very surprised the original box didn't give up the ghost years ago!!

Apart from all that, it's turkey day - the day the Kellybronze turkey is delivered.  So there will be plenty of defeathering (there's always too many feather stumps left) and generally faffing around with the poor thing - lemon and sage butter under the skin, onion and lemon inside before making room for it in the fridge.  Unfortunately, the weather is due to turn warm and the things I was hoping to be able to keep out in the shed are going to have to come into the fridge, which is a right pain in the old wotsit!  iGoogle tells be it's going to be up to 11 tomorrow which is way too warm.  Saturday is supposed to be cooler again.  I just hope that what happened three years ago doesn't happen again.  That year the turkeys grew exceptionally well and instead of the 7k bird I had ordered, I got one weighing 10.5k.  I had to remove the wings to fit it in the oven!!  Please, not this year!!

Ah, well, better do another little bit of tidying up and sorting out.  I may be gone some time!

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Wednesday evening

It certainly was a Hokey-Cokey day today.  First of all I went to the home of a dear friend to take her to Hobbycraft.  This friend is in a wheelchair so I had a bit of uncertainty about whether I could actually manage getting the chair into and out of the car but, as it happened, it wasn't a problem.  And then I had a great time re-arranging some of the displays in the show so that my friend could get to the displays she wanted to see.  Altogether a really good time.  Then back to hers for lunch and then home where I kept up the in-out pattern by taking stuff to the garage and getting stuff from the garage, after which I decided that what I REALLY wanted to do was get the Christmas tree set up.  So I did.  Then it was out again to pick up DG from his holiday club and get him home, indulging in a bit (OK, a lot) of kitten worship after arriving home.

And then home to decorate the tree. 

So the living room is an almighty mess, but the tree is up and decorated.  The rest can wait as I need an early night.  I still have two days before the first of the guests arrive.

Wednesday morning

I have to admit it was jolly nice waking up and knowing that upstairs was not only tidy but also clean!  Walking into a tidy kitchen was rather pleasant too.  Now for the living room and then it's all done.

I had a very odd dream involving heavy snow, burglars that turned out to be secret service agents and a wire coathanger.  Goodness knows what it all meant but I didn't wake feeling stressed so it must have been OK!

Today is a bit like the Hokey-Cokey - in, out, in, out.  Not much chance of sorting the living room but I live in hope!

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Target Tuesday

I didn't do this last week - too much else going on and it totally went out of my mind.  But it's back again now.

OK, so how did I do?
1.  Continue to keep my bedroom tidy.  Yes, yes, yes.  That's three weeks now, so almost a habit . . . almost!
2.  Phone about the oven.  I'm afraid not.  Not yet.  I have made my cooking plans to get round this one.  Must do it though.
3.   Look out for the cranberries - yes, the sauce is now made, has been mixed with a liberal amount of port and it in the fridge.  It's set well so no need to freeze now.
4.  Tidy living room.  Well, I'm in the middle of a serious declutter so it's not exactly tidy, but it will be, no doubt about that.
5.  Sorting out some books.  Yes,I've started.  Not got very far but getting there.  One bite at a time.

New targets:  not so many because Christmas is enough of a challenge.
1.  Continue to sort out the books
2.  Declutter the cupboard under the stairs.
3.  Keep working on that bedroom!

That's enough!

Tuesday morning

Sadly, the arrangement this beauty comes from is likely to be over by Christmas Day.
I seem to be getting into the habit of waking, coming down for a coffee, going back up and sleeping again to wake at a reasonable hour - I call six thirty reasonable anyway.  It's really lovely to be able to do that at the moment, sheer enjoyment to fall asleep again over a book and a coffee..

Today I really MUST get going.  I have treated myself to four hours of housework - done by someone else.  I'm sure most of my readers will agree that is really is a great treat.  For once all the bedrooms are in a decent state and can be thoroughly cleaned through so I'm going to ask her to do upstairs for two hours today and then downstairs for the other two hours on Thursday.  It was going to be four hours yesterday but I like this way more, I think.

Then I must do some washing, sort some things out downstairs, get the decorations in from the garage (and stuff out to the garage) and make a shopping list.  I did some shopping yesterday but the more I think about it, the more I need!  Ridiculous, considering the shops are only shut for two days max, in fact, probably just the one.  But feeding eight is so different from my usual feeding one that there's stuff I need to get in: for example, I have enough instant coffee to see me through until next week if it was just me, but for eight . . . no!  So I'm ploughing my way through all the meals in order to make sure I have what I need.  And I must check the shop times too - the earlier, the better!  Although Morrisons is much closer I think I will do my final shop at Sainsburys, as they have things that Morrisons doesn't have - nice jars of chicken stock, for instance.  As previous years, if I can buy something that I couldn't (or don't want to) make better, then I will.  Bread sauce, for example, or fresh custard.  Saves a pile of hassle on the day!

Better get going with the dishwasher then!  Oh, the hardship.  :0)

Monday, 19 December 2011

Monday evening

It stared off brightish and very, very cold this morning, but is finishing off milder and very wet indeed.  I went to pick DG up from his club a little earlier and got rather damp!  No snow though!

It's been a quiet day all found.  I've pottered around indoors, done some tidying up, some texting, a bit of meal planning and shopping list making and that's about it really.  A bit of a nothing day.  As I'm still aching somewhat from the coughing, it's been quite welcome, although I really will have to get going tomorrow if I'm to avoid a mad rush on Friday.  I can do a bit more useful pottering this evening though.

Sunday, 18 December 2011

I can offishully report . . .

. . . that the strawberry gin packs quite a punch as well as being extremely tasty.  Handle with care!!  Hic!  :0)

Parsnip pick'n' time!

Or rather, more accurately, parsnip preparation time - which doesn't have nearly the same zing to it, does it?

Around came DD and DG and, after a lunch of cheese on toast, DD and I set to getting the bucket load of parsnips sorted. 
Step 1:  Into a bowl of warm water to soak off the mud
Step 2:  Peel, discard, de-core and generally prepare
Step 3:  Dunk in bowl of cold water.
Step 4:  Blanch in boiling water for about 5 mins
Step 5:  Drain, steam dry, cool and bag or open freeze.  The ones I'm keeping for Christmas are being open frozen while the ones DD took home were in bags.
It took a while but it was worth it.

After that we strained the strawberry gin which has been 'festering' since August.  My word, it smells good.  We got five small-ish bottles of the stuff, four for hampers and one for Christmas.  What didn't fit in the fifth bottle I am enjoying right now.

DD then put one of the bottles in a hamper she is giving to a very dear friend and I took a photo or two.  Doesn't it look nice, what with the jams, chutneys and strawberry gin?  Well worth the effort.

So all in all, a very productive day.

Sunday morning

. . . and it's another cold and frosty one, although I gather it will warm up a little later on, just as it did yesterday.

Yesterday?  Well, it passed in a haze of snoozes, emails and Christmas DVDs with a session of - er - action on one of the OUSA forums I help to moderate.  DD came over and picked up the cardboard that came with my tables and it's now covering her allotment beds.  She came back later with a bucket of parsnips which we will have to deal with today.  The cough - well, it's been troublesome overnight, but never mind, it will sort itself out at some point.

As for today, DD and DG are over for lunch, I have - HAVE - to do some clearing up and sorting out and I shall rest in-between times as sleep was rather fragmented.

Saturday, 17 December 2011

A cold and frosty (Saturday) morning

After a long night's sleep I woke to a white and silent world.  No, not snow, sadly, just a very heavy frost, but lovely to see.  By the time I got out with the camera most of it had thawed: must be quicker next time.  The problem was that I went back to bed to read and drink my morning coffee and, I suppose, inevitably went back to sleep again.

However worthy and devoted a teacher one is, there is a certain frisson of excitement that scampers up and down ones emotions when thinking of the day after the end of term.  That sense of a blank page, an untrodden snowfield, an unruffled pool. just waiting for one to put ones own individual mark on it.  What to do when there's no planning, assessment, evaluation, resource gathering and making . . .
And the sheer delight of reading on a certain social networking site that little pickles who normally take forever to wake up were bouncing on their devoted parents' bed at some unearthly hour - I had to smile!

Unfortunately, with all the coughing between sleeps last night, I have a very croaky voice this morning.  On the brighter side, I intend to have a pj day - doing precious little but rest, snooze, potter and generally wasting time!  It's jolly cold and the ground is hard so I have cancelled George.  I don't absolutely need to go shopping so I won't.  There's probably nothing worth watching on telly but I will find something anyway. 

That's my day sorted.  I hope yours is good too.

A tangle of clematis - a gift I might possibly manage to keep alive beyond Christmas - you never know!!

Friday, 16 December 2011

Friday evening

We DID get some snow.  It was very wet, pretty sleety and didn't settle, but it WAS snow, especially at playtime, when it was proper big flakes fluttering down around shriekingly excited children.  The rest of the day was mostly rain with a bit of sunshine now and again.  It was raw though and the children seemed eager to get back in to the warmth of the classroom.  So were Andrea, Sharon and I after our afternoon playground duty.

The Gopak tables were delivered today.  Thanks to two lovely fellow witches (thanks, Ros and Elaine) the day was covered and when I got home, there they were.  Two big tables that can be put together to make a big almost square dining table that will easily sit eight with room to spare and, looking at them, would sit ten without discomfort too.  And if I put them longwise, I could manage fourteen.  An excellent investment for family get togethers.  And to cap it all, the DVDs I have ordered for DD for Christmas (she knows about them) arrived ten minutes ago.  Now that was speedy!

So now the term has ended.  We've had carols by candlelight, the wine is a-chillin' and I am considering my take-away options.  Chinese?  Indian?  Pizza?  Decisions, decisions. 
AND we got paid today.  Can life hold more?

Friday morning

The last day of the Autumn Term today and it's gone so very quickly.  There's precious little planned - I have a meeting (it's my SEN day) and it's carols by candlelight in the afternoon but apart from that it's games and DVDs.  The Jacquie Lawson advent calendar has been a huge success and today I need to fiddle the date on the computer so that we can watch the remaining clips all the way up to the 25th.  Should be fun.

My goodness, it's cold outside.  There's a raw feel in the air, the wind is blowing and we've had rain.  No snow as far as I can tell and it's likely that we won't get any, which is something of a relief.  It can snow tomorrow!!

Wherever you are, stay warm.

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Thursday evening

Today was pressie day at school.  Our parents have a pleasant tradition of making a collection for their children's teacher and getting one or two gifts rather than lots of smaller things from individuals.

Today was lovely.  Bless them, they presented me with a lovely card, a bottle of wine, a wonderful flower arrangement (see photos below) created by one of them and some vouchers for hobbycraft.  Yes - Hobbycraft.  My just about favourite place ever.  Ooooh, I will enjoy spending them.

One more day to go!

Thursday morning

Oh, dear, two whole days without blogging.  I'm so sorry, gentle readers, but recent events meant that I wasn't really up to blogging.  Settling down again now so here I am.

Two more days to go before the end of term.  Two days filled with lots of nothingness really.  A special guitar assembly today, some games in the hall this afternoon, videos (educational, of course ) and maybe a little bit of work, if there's any gaps to fill.

On Monday I posed them a problem.  There are ten Words and Pictures Phonic Special programmes on this video.  There are five days left of the term.  If Lime Bay children watch all the videos, how can we share them out so they watch the same number each day?  Little Mathematician got there straight away, of course.  So Monday and Tuesday we watched two.  Yesterday we didn't.  Real Life wins over theory any day of the week in an infant class.  So today the problem is six programmes and two days.  I doubt anyone will object - they do seem to enjoy their Words and Pictures.

As well as that we must do the traditional thing and watch The Snowman.  Can't not watch The Snowman.

Yesterday the film company came to shoot the show.  No, not literally, in a film recording sort of way!  So we did the Sleepy Shepherd one last time.  I have to admit that, charming as it is, it's now wearing just a bit thin and it's about time the five woolly sheep learnt to stand still, the Sleepy Shepherd caught up on his sleep and did the job properly and his friends learn to believe him a bit more.  So the music and CD are now safely stored away for another time, the sheep are off the wall bars and the costumes have all gone home.  And the star is decorating my classroom now!!  Yay.

But the Big Problem for today is 'Do we go out for games after play'?  If I have my coordinator cover the answer is 'yes'!  If I have to take them the answer is 'most unlikely'!  See how committed I am.

Monday, 12 December 2011

Monday evening

Well, I was in school today and I survived.  I have to admit, I really didn't feel up to going in this morning, but there comes a point where one needs to push it through and I think I was there.  So in I went and it did get better through the day although I'm very much looking forward to bedtime - an early bedtime.  Today was a quiet day for the infants, but the juniors walked down to the local Anglican church for their carol service this afternoon which, I gather, went very well indeed.  Tomorrow the choir is off to St Paul's Cathedral to sing with other choirs in a concert there and the infants are having another show run through in preparation for the recording on Wednesday afternoon - fingers crossed for that.  So school life is hotting up again with all sorts of things happening before the end of term.  Planning is a series of 'activities' - Christmas cards, calenders, 3D angels, etc, etc, etc . . . all jolly good fun.

I've got a nice Friday evening planned.  A few weeks ago I saw a DVD of the original Miracle on 34th Street so I bought it and intend watching it on Friday evening with a few glasses of something chilled and white and sparkling.  Should be very nice indeed.

Sunday, 11 December 2011

Sunday evening

After a very busy afternoon sorting out jams and chutneys and allocating the same to various people/hampers, etc, I now view with great satisfaction three boxes of home made goodies, only waiting for the fruity vodka to be strained and the biscotti made and added (for immediate family), twenty nine little carrier bags with goodies for my class and numerous ditto little bags with jars of similar home made goodies for friends, colleagues and lovely parent helpers at school.  I'm really not quite sure how I am going to find the room/time to get them all into school and distributed, but I will - somehow - manage it.

Another photo of the bouquet - part of it, anyway.

Sunday morning

After sleeping on and off quite a lot yesterday evening, plus an early night and going straight to sleep, I am, inevitably, wide awake at stupid o'clock.  It's not a problem - being Sunday, it's perfectly possible to go back to bed in an hour or so and have another little kip if wanted/needed.

Today I have DD and DG coming for lunch and we plan to get all the jars, etc sorted and wrapped for out hamper gifts.  While we're at it, I can do the pressies for people at school too and get it all out of the way.  Easy peasy!  I keep umming and ahing about the freezer.  Self Indulgent Self tells me it would be an awful lot easier to do it in the holiday; Common Sense tells me to get it done now before I need the space for festive goodies.  I know there's some old stuff in there that possibly is now past its best. 

I'm making a yummy lunch for us all today.Last weekend I made a version of dauphinoise potatoes for my friend, Alison, but with no cheese as it is not good for her.  It was so very tasty I'm going to make it again.  This time it will have cheese and also I will make two different ones so that DG and I can have some of the chicken from off the boiled up wings and maybe some bacon too.  The recipe I have (from the Good Food site) serves eight so halving it will be easy.  We'll have some vegetables with it - probably parsnips and carrots.

Well, it's just after half past four and I can feel the sleep wafting ever closer again so I'll sign off now.  Another hour or so in the land of nod would be good so fingers crossed the cough doesn't start up.

On the second night of the show I was presented with a lovely bouquet.  This photo was taken by the window in very low sunlight, hence the intense shadows.  I quite like the effect.

Saturday, 10 December 2011

It's beginning to smell a lot like Christmas . . .

Remember those targets from this morning?  Well, I did clean the kitchen windows - it's nice to be able to see out again!  The living room is still looking - er - unfortunate.  The books are still on the shelves.  But there's a goodly aroma filling the house.

I went shopping this afternoon.  As well as all the other stuff, I wanted to get a turkey drumstick to boil up to make the gravy for the Christmas dinner.  I haven't got time to faff around with the stock that comes off the bird on Christmas Day - that makes Boxing Day gravy and also turkey dripping to have on hot, buttered toast (mmmmmmmmmm - that takes me right back to childhood). 
Unfortunately, there were no turkey drumsticks in Morrison's but there were some packs of likely looking chicken wings on special.  Now, I don't usually buy chicken wings, there's far too little meat on them and too much bone, but for a good tasty stock they work extremely well.  So in the stock pot they went with some onion, carrot, herbs from the garden (good old garden) and garlic cloves and at the moment they are all gently simmering away.  The meat will not be wasted, but it's a side product.  I will also boil up all the innards that come with the Kellybronze turkey and mix the two to make THE most scrumptious gravy for The Day.  There's rarely any left over.
Beside the stock pot, some onion, bacon and garlic is gently frying, to be mixed with sausage meat (acquired by purchasing good quality sausages and taking off the skins), chestnuts, dried cranberries steeped in port and a few other good things (including fresh breadcrumbs made from a loaf I baked this morning) to make stuffing balls.
There's a slight difference of opinion regarding stuffing in our family.  Mum's traditional stuffing is really very nice made as it is with sage, onion, fresh breadcrumbs and ham, plus a few other ingredients, it goes inside the bird and is soft and gooey.  Mine is firmer, I don't stuff my bird, I put onion, herbs and lemon in the cavity and cook the stuffing (which always has chestnuts and cranberries) separately.  To satisfy all tastes, I make mine, Mum makes hers (which does have to be cooked separately from the bird) and there's a choice on the table.  Most of us have both!  It's a win-win situation, isn't it?  I also take delight in making some good old fashioned sage and onion stuffing for DD, who is vegetarian.  Might add some cranberries to that too.  :0)  Ooooh, I do love Christmas cooking.

DD has just texted me.  She will be pulling the Christmas parsnips tomorrow and will be coming over to prepare and freeze them.  She's getting a bit worried about the forecast of cold weather and the possibility of them being frosted in.  Quite right too, that would never do.  On the other hand, the frost is just what's needed for the sprouts so one can hardly complain.  So this home is destined to smell very Christmassy for the whole weekend.  No complaints from me whatsoever!

 so . . . it's beginning to smell a lot like Christmas . . . (contented sigh)

It's beginning to look a lot .like winter too!

Saturday morning

There's a clear sky, a wonderful nearly-full moon and, inevitably, a heavy frost.  Everything is glittering in the moonlight and looks so clean and sharp.  A beautiful night but I'm glad I'm indoors with efficient central heating.  I've turned it up and am sipping on my first mug of Saturday coffee - that is, proper coffee, not instant.  My Saturday treat to myself.

Today I am targeting.  If I can face the cold, I'm going to defrost the upright freezer and, hopefully, sort out the chest freezer too.  I'm going to clean the kitchen windows, inside and out.  I'm going to start on sorting out the books in the yellow room.  And I am going to tidy the living room.,

I can dream!                                  

Friday, 9 December 2011

And Friday evening

I thought I was getting a bit better so a couple of hours ago I wrapped up warmly and pottered down to A's house, just down the road, with my secret Santa gift.   I was wrong - I felt pretty rough by the time I got home again and am consoling myself with something that could be called medicinal (possibly) and a Miss Read book.  I love her stories; they're the kind of story one revisits time and time again!

Because of the number of people who couldn't come, our Chinese and Chat has been postponed until after Christmas when, it is hoped, everyone will be able to come.  It wasn't just me by any stretch of the imagination, more than half of us were not able to make it for one reason or another.  Such a shame but I think that the right decision was made.
So Secret Santa will have to be something else.  Secret Janus, Secret First Footer (no, I don't think so), Secret whatever . . .  And a well deserved and probably much needed early night tonight for many of us too, which can only be a bonus! 

Sadly I have also postponed an outing I was due to make tomorrow.  I have a lovely friend, Julie, who isn't all that well, and we were going to live it up at Hobbycraft tomorrow morning.  Luckily we have been able to reschedule for the Christmas holidays so it's a pleasure deferred, not cancelled.

I do love what our cul de sac community has become - we Witches of Pickwick.  Remember I said that I'd ordered some large Gopak folding tables for bigger family meals (especially Christmas)?  I got an email telling me that they would be delivered on the 16th.  Well, that's no good, I will be at school all day.  I was just about to phone to rearrange (which might not have been until after Christmas which would have been a nuisance) when I thought I'd just ask my fellow witches if any of them could help and, lo and behold, in a couple of hours it was all sorted.  Between two of my lovely neighbours the delivery is covered.  Bless them, I'm very grateful.  Who says community spirit is dead - not me, not here anyway!

Friday afternoon

School's out.  It's an odd feeling.  I've had a productive day though and no, I'm not just talking about the cough!
I managed to make the cranberry sauce stuff for Christmas. This is what I did.
I peeled, cored and chopped 500g (ish) of cooking apples and added them to a pan with 500g cranberries.  In went half a tsp of cinnamon and enough water to just cover.
This simmered until everything was soft and mushy.  Then I put it through my mouli-thing as I tend not to hang in a jelly bag.  There's too much wasted that way.
Then I measured the liquid and added just under a lb of jam sugar for each pint of liquid and I also added some orange oil, some lemon oil and three cloves.
Then I did the usual for jam - heated slowly to dissolve the sugar, then boiled to setting point, which didn't take long.  Then into heated, sterilised jars.  It smells rather good, looks rather good and tasted yummy!  And I got enough jars to give a few as pressies too!  Yay!!

And then I had to sit down because I was worn out.  :0)

Friday morning

Goodness, what a miserable old thing I was yesterday evening.  So sorry for the whingy blog entry and thank you for the nice comments rather than something like pull yourself together, you whiney so-and-so!'.

Why is it that going to sleep with a cough is a whole lot better that waking up with one.  After a good dose of ibuprofen to keep the aches at bay, I think I had a good night's sleep - I can't remember if I didn't- but waking was a bit dire.  Yuck!  Still, I'm up now and devoutly thankful I don't have to get going and work today.  I may go back to bed in a while and see if I can catch some more sleep.

Why is it that one feels so guilty though?  It's not even as if the school has to provide supply cover as it's my SEN day so they are taken by A anyway.  And yet I'm sitting here, worrying about the work today, feeling bad that I will be at home while my colleagues are working hard. 

I'm daft!!!!!   ;0)

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Thursday evening: cough, sneeze, sniff, shiver, ache . . .

. . . etc.

The cold has landed, well and truly landed with a vengeance.  I feel dire, I've been coughing on and off all day, the voice is nearly gone and I have the shivers and sweats.  I was told not to even think of coming in to school tomorrow and to switch off my alarm.  I didn't quite like to say I can't remember the last time I slept up to the alarm as it was a kind thought.

So that's tomorrow sorted.  Inside, trying to get a bit better.  No Chinese and Chat - thank you, June, for taking it over and opening your home - and no school Christmas lunch.

Grrrrrr . . .

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Wednesday evening

. . . and I am very pleased to be able to say that the second and final performance of 'The Sleepy Shepherd' was a huge success.  The children were amazing, the actors all spoke clearly and acted well, the songs were great, the dances were super . . . all in all, it was better than I had ever dared to hope.



And it's PPA this morning.  Yay.  They're not being taught by the usual teacher though because she is taking the juniors through the carols for the Christmas Carol Concert next Monday afternoon.  Two very courageous and, possibly, foolhardy Y5 teachers are taking my class (one after the other, not together - Infants aren't so scary that one needs company!) and I have produced some careful and relatively unchallenging work both for their sake and for the children too, who will be rather tired after yesterday's late night.

Last night - well, I had a little rave about it in here when I got home.  We all felt that it went extremely well.  The parents seemed to love it, judging by the soppy smiles on everyone's faces and they can be very proud of their children who were stars!
After all our lectures on 'rules' and 'behaviour' and 'singing at the right time', they conducted themselves in an exemplary fashion and were a pleasure to see and listen to.  Well, all except one young person who will remain nameless in here, of course, but who will find that s/he is in deep, deep hot water once s/he gets to school.  I want a word (or several) and I think the teacher s/he blatantly ignored will also have a few comments to make after I have finished.  I doubt any of it will be particularly complimentary!

I can't recall where I am in the saga of the oven.  Suffice it to say there's not much chance of a repair before Christmas now, thanks to my shocking habit of hiding my head under the pillow rather than taking action.  Therefore I have been considering my options and being very grateful for Handy Andy (my halogen oven).
The turkey, obviously, will fill the oven from stupid o'clock to about midday, then it comes out and in go the roasties.  I can roast the parsnips (parboiled) and also cook the pigs in blankets in Handy Andy and, providing I cook the stuffing the day before, that can be heated up in there too, or in the microwave.  I will boil the carrots, as DS isn't too fond of roasted veg.  DD's vegetarian option (savoury crumble, which is a great favourite) will do under (or over) the roasties.
We always heat up mince pies and Christmas pudding as it is wanted because very often no-one has room for much pudding!  So that's not a problem.

And finally I received an email telling me that my tables will be delivered on the 16th.  Now that's a right pain because I am in school, of course.  So I either ask the witches who can be in to sign or I ask them to delay the delivery.  I think I'll try the former first!  Fingers crossed!

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Tuesday evening

One very weary Infant Coordinator reporting that the first performance of The Sleepy Shepherd went brilliantly and that she is VERY proud of her team, children and adults alike!

One more to go tomorrow plus a recorded in-school performance next week.

I don't know about the Sleepy Shepherd - this is the Sleepy Teacher signing off for the night. 

Target Tuesday

First for last week's targets.  I'm afraid I haven't done so well, my reason (or excuse) being that I've been very busy and I've not been well.  Better luck this week.

1.  Keep my bedroom tidy for a week.  I have done that!  I'm really very pleased about this  I've never been good at tidy bedrooms - well, tidy anything if I am quite honest!  This year one bedroom, next year the whole house!  You never know - miracles do happen sometimes.

2.  Phone about my oven which has something of a problem.    Say no more.  I think I am reconciled to one oven for Christmas, plus my trusty Handy Andy.  Others do so I can too!

3.  Linked to 2 - get that new phone ordered.  Yes, well I achieved that.  It arrived yesterday and now it is all charged up, it works with my Virgin line, the sound quality isn't too bad and I even have two numbers programmed in!  Yay for me!

4.  Make the cranberry sauce for Christmas and get it into the freezer.  Er - no cranberries in Morrison's so not all that easy to do.  I will keep my eyes open!

5.  Defrost the upright freezer.  Another .  Weekend was just too achey and busy.  May be better to wait until the end of the term.

Now on to this week's targets.

1.  Continue to keep the bedroom tidy - it needs to become a habit!

2.  Get that phone call about the oven made.  It needs to be mended, even if that's not going to happen before Christmas!

3.  Look out for those cranberries

4. Get the living room tidied and KEEP it tidy - extension of bedroom target really.

5.  Start sorting out the books in the 'yellow room'.  There's stuff on the shelves that I have not looked at for years and years and, while the craft books are staying, the old, out of date, discontinued course OU stuff could easily see the inside of the bin.  They're not sellable.  Ditto for old, rubbish novels.  They're much too scruffy to be sellable and I would be ashamed to hand them on anywhere.

Fingers crossed, eh?

Monday, 5 December 2011

Monday evening update

The phone has arrived.   It's not reacting with my hearing aids.  After an initial wibble, I find it is easy to use.  The clarity is good.  Yay!!!!!


Well, the weekend is over, my friend is now back home, the Witches' Christmas meal is past and the show week begins.  It starts with a dress rehearsal this morning to which all the juniors are invited.  Tomorrow and Wednesday are the show days, Thursday is pantomime day and Friday is Chinese and Chat.   Three of these are evening things so we're all going to be pretty tired afterwards, that's for sure!

Yesterday I had a serious think about Christmas dinner table arrangements and, after considered reflection and getting stuck into some measuring with my reliable B&Q Value Tape Measure, I went into the Gopak site and ordered two quite large fold up tables.  For a while now it's been a bit awkward at family get togethers because my dining table, while fine for just me or even for up to six, is totally inadequate for any more.  Getting another dining table really is not a sensible option.  Gopak seems to be the way to go and what I have ordered, set side by side, should be plenty of space for us all and will be useful for years to come too.  it says delivery in two weeks which is good enough for me.  Just as long as they're here for Christmas, I will be happy.

The summer truly is over now!  When George came last weekend the cosmos was still looking lovely so he deadheaded but that was all.  After two frosts through the week, this Saturday they were brown and wilting and not at all pretty so out they came!  The difference a week makes, eh?  Once they had gone I could see that some of my bulbs are coming up - a bit too early but there's nothing that can be done about it, is there?

Better get going, I suppose.  My hair needs washing and it takes forever to dry!  Have a good day.

Sunday, 4 December 2011

Early Sunday morning

OK, not as early as usual, but early for most.  It's been a busy weekend.  On Friday, half way through afternoon school my visitor arrived (earlier than expected) so she read through some stuff she had brought with her until I was able to leave school.  We went home and had some rather nasty fish and chips, ordered online and delivered.  It was most disappointing because the last time I ordered from there, it was absolutely delicious.  This time it tasted and felt as if it had been cooked at lunchtime and then reheated.  Then we chatted and I tried not to fall asleep until after half past eight.
Yesterday my visitor had to go into London for a meeting so after a wander in and out of the station I went home to get some stuff done.  I didn't manage to do very much as I'm still feeling achey and not 100% but I did bake some soda bread.  After my visitor had arrived back, I got ready for our latest witches' do - a Christmas meal at the local pub.  Fairly indifferent food (I think I'm getting fussy in my old age), reasonable alcohol and great company.  Thank you all very much ladies.  As always, I left early, while I could still keep my eyes open, so missed a lot of the fun, but that's what happens when you are an early riser, isn't it?

Soda bread!  I do love soda bread.  When I was a teenager, we lived in Belfast for four years and our summer holidays were spent in the South, usually based around farmhouse accommodation.   One hostess was a great bread-maker and we ate loaf after loaf of her still warm soda bread with fresh butter melting on it,  Absolutely wonderful!
I've tried various recipes, all of which are quite nice, but the one I like the best is the one I used yesterday.  It is made with white flour and involves buttermilk, which is easy to find around here now (thank you, Morrisons).  The flavour is just amazingly good!  I just add some butter, rubbed into the flour, as soda bread does go stale rather quickly and the fat helps it to remain fresh a little longer.

So brekkie this morning is toasted soda bread with jam, etc.  Yum yum!

Friday, 2 December 2011


For the first time in several days, sleep lasted until a reasonable time.  Well, strictly speaking, that's not true, I was awake at just after one, but even for me that's way too early so I read in bed and after an hour I was asleep again, thank goodness.

Today is busy.  SEN work, a full run through of the show and a weekend visitor arriving after school.  All very nice indeed.  :0)

See you later!

Yesterday we made paper chains!  Piles of paper chains!!

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Thursday evening and a quick update

Firstly and most importantly, the injured child was one of ours.  We understand that it is serious but the condition is stable and the child should be OK in time.  As you can imagine, we were very upset about it, especially the child's class teacher, so it cast a dampener over the day.

Secondly and less important, the phone didn't arrive so fingers crossed for tomorrow!

Thirdly, remember me saying that I didn't get notification that I was being given the free interactive Advent calendar?  Well, the email arrived today!  So now I do know!
The children were introduced to it and they just LOVED it.   It's been a super day all round really (apart from the news about the accident) with lots of merry festive fun in the form of repeating colour pattern paper chains!

I hope tomorrow is as good.


A pinch and a punch!  There, that's got the tradition bit done!

I seem to have got back into the way of waking at stupid o'clock again.  Yesterday it was before three, today it was just after three.  Mind you, I'm not feeling 100% so maybe that's why.  These colds go around and around the school and I reckon it's got back to me again!

Yesterday was weird.  Four teachers, quite a lot of support staff and no children.  I got a lot done.  Five woolly sheep, the Advent calendar, Christmas displays, narrators' scripts for the performance, assessments . . . but it was boring without the children!  And cold - the heating hadn't been turned on!
After school I popped over to Morrisons and when I came out there were ambulances and police cars everywhere.  I was stuck in the school car park for a short while (which was not a problem - there were much more important things needing to be done) but couldn't really see what had happened.  Turns out that three people had been run over - the details change depending on whose Facebook page you read, but it must have been pretty bad to warrant three ambulances and three police cars.  Of course, Morrison's was packed, the car parks were pretty full and the queues to get into the road that leads to Morrisons (and school) were starting to build up.  My immediate response was 'I hope it wasn't one of our children', which horrified me straight afterwards.  Whether it was one of 'ours' or not is surely not the point at all.  The point is that (probably) three people are hurt, perhaps badly, one a child, and whether I know them or not is irrelevant!  I hope they will be OK.

I'm pleased to say that I've met one of my targets.  As soon as I sent yesterday's entry I went over to Amazon and completed the order for the phone.  It took ages to decide on the postage choice.  At first I went for the free postage, then thought I might like it faster so changed it to first class post, then saw that with the weekend coming up it hardly made any difference (as it was being delivered to school)so changed it back to super saver.  And by the afternoon there was an email to say that it had been dispatched and should arrive on Friday.  Fingers crossed.  Also fingers crossed that the sound quality will be OK.

So - on to today.  Advent starts.  Choccy in a felt calendar.  The most wonderful interactive calendar from Jacquie Lawson.  A short time ago I got an email from her site reminding me that I hadn't yet activated the Advent calendar which had been given as a thanks for renewing my membership of her site (which I can thoroughly and unreservedly recommend for beautiful interactive online cards).  Funny, thought I, I don't recall being told about this.  However, I never turn anything free down unseen so I took a look and it is just lovely so yesterday I downloaded it to my class laptop and every day we are going to look at one scene.  I haven't told the children so it will be a surprise for them!

Here's a very simple idea for a Christmas tree decoration.  Pipe cleaner candy canes.  You need three long pipe cleaners, one red, one white and one green (Hobbycraft sell them).  Lay them side by side and twist them around each other.   Cut the resulting 'twist' in half and bend over the top of each half.  That's it.  Quick, easy and they look great.  And the children were extremely impressed and can't wait to make their own!
Nice, aren't they?

Edited to add:  Diane's comment made me realise that you might think it was my idea - it isn't.  I saw a picture somewhere (can't remember where) and thought 'what a good idea . . .'.