Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Target Tuesday

Very cold, dry and frosty.  That's what I noticed when I opened the front door just now.  Thankfully, indoors is warm and cosy and filled with the good smell of freshly baked bread from the breadmaker that has been working its usual magic overnight.  It was white bread this time: recently I have been making a wholemeal/granary loaf but decided I needed a change.  As half of last week's loaf got thrown away, having not been eaten and gone mouldy, I think I will freeze half of this week's, just in case.  I don't get through a whole loaf if I don't have sandwiches for my school lunch.

Marking five year old writing has its plains and pleasures.  The main pain is not being able to read what they've written - I can't make head nor tail of 'bolylsholawa' although I think the 'awa' means 'away', but without finger spaces how's a teacher to tell?  Even in context of the whole sentence it means nothing . . .

But the delight of the whole bunch was this.  Remember the context - the wolf writing a letter of apology to the three pigs, explaining what really happened.
 . . . and I went to the lrst (last) house wiv brix and I bleshchood and I fand my slf on the roof . . .
Must ask mum if they always call sneezes 'bless yous' in their family!

I've remembered.  It's Target Tuesday.  So how have I done?  Well, seeing as I didn't set any last time, no comment, but here's the new ones.
1.  Work on the new Flylady baby step - fifteen minutes of decluttering a day.  Now, I'm realistic and I doubt I will manage that, so I'm making it five minutes of decluttering each week day and fifteen on Saturday and Sunday.  That should make a considerable difference to things which is what it's all about.  Because it's just me, if I tidy up as I go along, surface clutter doesn't happen all that much so we're talking cupboards, drawers, wardrobes, etc.  And that's big job stuff!
2.  Keep up the shiny sink and the swish and swipe, with all that is involved in this.
3.  Get my clothes ready the night before.  Actually, because I'm on top of the ironing right now, that doesn't look too challenging, and I want it to stay that way, so now is a good time to develop that habit, isn't it?  While it is easier to achieve.

Fingers crossed!

Monday, 30 January 2012

Monday morning

I've woken to a very chilly but dry day.  Yesterday's mist seems to have vanished so perhaps we will get some sun today.  I do hope so, it's been rather dull for much of the time and sunshine cheers everyone up, even if it is freezing cold.

In Flylady world, which I hop in and out of, February's baby step is fifteen minutes of decluttering each day.  My goodness, if I managed that - if I managed even HALF of that - my house would be radically changed.  I must ponder on this one.  This month's baby step, shining my sink, is pretty well established now so I could move on.  I've not got into the zoning thing because that seems to assume a stay at home mum (sorry, I mean stay at home mom).  I do what I can, when I can, gradually building up the whole routine thing . . .

I don't think anything special is due to happen today.  This may be Famous Last Words, of course . . .

Sunday, 29 January 2012

Every now and again . . .

. . . I find myself in the right place at the right time.  I'd meandered into Facebook when I saw a message from a 'page' I like with a hint that if you lived in Chelmsford there might be freebie cupcakes.  So I clicked on the link (out of curiosity more than greed, honest) and posted a message and was the first to post so won four cupcakes.  I had to go and collect them but it wasn't far away and they do look and smell good.  I'm keeping them for playtime tomorrow so I can share them with June and our two TAs.

The lunchtime frittata was delicious with salad and coleslaw and I heated up some lasagna for DG because he doesn't like frittata.  I've got two slices left for the week ahead, so they've been vacu-packed to keep them fresh and good.  Then I stewed some plums and made plum crumble which was just the thing for a cold, cloudy day.  After lunch, I am ashamed to admit, I fell fast asleep in the recliner and woke just as DD was leaving.  It's just as well she knows what I'm like!  And I'm good and ready for bed now, with all the planning done, printed and ready for the new day, the dishwasher emptied, everything put away, the kitchen wiped over and a shiny sink. 

It's nearly the end of January and I don't know whether I am proud or ashamed to announce that for the first time ever my house has been tidy AND clean for the whole month.  It's not habit yet, but that desirable state is getting closer, I think.  Maybe I am heading for a tidy retirement after living my working life as a messy slob.  Time alone will tell!

Sunday morning

. . . and I had a lie in - for me, that is! It was past five when I woke up and I slept well all night long. Excellent!! I think the two good long dozes I had yesterday helped me to stay up until ten yesterday evening, which is unusual for me. Looking out, it's jolly cold today and misty too. I can't tell if there's any frost yet but I suspect not, although there may be a little ice on the cars. It's nice to get some proper cold though rather than slightly muggy dampness.

I had a bit of a worry yesterday. I thought my PC had gone doolally. It wasn't letting me into Facebook, Googlemail and sundry other places and my AVG wasn't updating - eeek. It wasn't until the evening that I realised that somehow I had reset the date to 28th February and various sites weren't happy about it. I only noticed this because I wanted to do an anti spy-ware check and it told me I hadn't updated for 29 days, which I knew was quite wrong! :0) So the date was reset, I went to bed with the spyware running and this morning everything is back to normal again. Phew.

I got my steam cleaner and I'm very pleased with it. Goodness, there's a lot of choice out there but in the end I went for Lakeland's own make which is much cheaper than the others (hardly cheap though!) but which had great reviews despite some limitations. When I got home I had to try it out, of course, and am very pleased with the results. The relevant floors are now nice and clean and it took very little effort - the most energetic bit was carrying the thing from one room to another. The main disadvantage is that there's a few bits in the bathroom and loo that the steamer can't get to, but I think I can survive going over those little bits with a wipe!

While I was in town I also went into Wilkinsons to get a radiator drying rack. I have one over my bedroom radiator to dry my bath towel on each day, but it is very old and the plastic coating is now flaking off. That's now in the bin! It was so cheap I can't see it lasting for ever but we will see. If it goes ridiculously quickly I will look to spend more next time. I'm now thinking of getting a couple more for downstairs. I like ironing things like tea towels, pillow cases, muslins, hankies, etc, from damp as they iron so quickly and easily but then they need draping over the radiator to dry off and air. A couple of little racks would be just the ticket. I need to work out where I will store them first though.

After doing all the ironing I could and draping DDs washing on the drying rack (her machine is on the blink), I realised I hadn't done a de-clutter yet this weekend. I wasn't in the mood for anything major so I got the baskets down from the bathroom and went through them, discarding old stuff and wiping over everything. There was so much rubbish at the bottom of one basket it was ridiculous. Now I have loads of space and the jars and bottles that were clustered around the bath itself are neatly in a basket on the window ledge. I have a tiny bathroom so it doesn't take much to make it look messy and it's going to make it a lot easier to clean too!

Today DD and DG are coming. I think I will do a nice frittata for DD and me and DG can have a portion of lasagna that was vacu-packed and frozen a couple of weeks ago. I'll add some grated cheese on the top as it reheats and it should be just the thing for him. I don't normally do dessert but I have some plums that are rather 'over' so I may stew them and have them with custard and maybe a crumble topping, if I'm feeling very energetic.

Well, better get going. There's a dishwasher to empty and breakfast to make and it won't get done while I sit here, will it. Have a good day.

Saturday, 28 January 2012

Saturday morning - very early

Typical Saturday morning start.  I'm down early, will have coffee and something to eat and then have another sleep.  I should then wake at around seven which is civilised!

Today is a nothing day, a stay at home and relax day.  There's the housework, of course, but that can be done Flylady style in short bursts.  I don't need to do a food shop this week as I bought a few essentials yesterday.  I am going into town though because after much pondering I am buying myself a steam cleaner.  Just a basic one for sealed floors, nothing more than that.  You see, I'm none too fond of hands and knees scrubbing and ordinary swishy things don't seem to really do the job.  I don't have complicated floors, just lino or tiles.  So I reckon that if I can't treat myself to something like that at my age, then it's a poor show!  I even have somewhere to keep it!

The coffee is ready, I can smell it, so off I go.  I love coffee in bed, it seems so self indulgent.

Friday, 27 January 2012

Friday evening

I wasn't going to post again today but it's been quite a day, one way and another.  I wandered into school a bit later than usual to find a bit of a mini-crisis going on.  Rather a lot of staff away for various reasons, all with supply sorted beforehand (thank goodness) and then one of my team who turned up and went straight back home again - she has, I think, what I had, and she really should not have even attempted to come in.  I am glad she lives locally so didn't have too far to go home.  The problem was that the teacher who organises supply (my co-coordinator in KS2) is not in on Fridays and the office staff, who would usually know, hadn't arrived either.  Then I realised that the head was out most of the day and the deputy was off unwell too (it's the term for illness, isn't it?) so guess who was in charge of the school!  Yup, that's right.  Definitely NOT what I went into teaching for!  Ho hum!  It does make me appreciate the skills and courage of those who do become heads though.

Fortunately, lovely supportive office lady turned up, knew who to phone and did so, bless her.  Lovely supportive Y5 teacher, who has a student at the moment, was able to do registration for class without teacher and was brilliant (but then he is a brilliant teacher, full stop, and should go far).  Supply turned up and took over.  Mini-crisis ended.  I'd have taken the class myself but I was booked with performance management stuff all day! 
Now I must make sure that I have the details regarding supply teachers in case it ever happens again!

Apart from two Bad Boys (not so bad really) at lunchtime, things were as smooth as they usually are and I was able to get all my meetings done and dusted.  I was able to use the Head's office, which helped a lot.  It was really good to catch up with people, especially K, who worked in my class last year and with whom I got on so very, very well.  We share the same quirky humour and the same heart for troubled children.  I miss her . . .

I can't go into any details here, but at lunchtime something happened which was a HUGE relief for me and over which I have shed many a tear since before Christmas, not to mention flash-backs and nightmares.  I am so glad now, so grateful and thankful.  What a great start to the weekend. 

And the mini-Mantle of the Expert was a fantastic hit too.  Thanks, Andrea, you're a star!

Now it's the weekend.  Nothing much planned apart from some Lakeland retail therapy and the usual and much enjoyed Sunday lunch with DD and DG.  Isn't life great sometimes?

Friday morning

What an interesting and encouraging day it was yesterday.  J and I started off with no great hopes: it was time for the so-called and dreaded 'unaided writing' where the children have to produce a piece of extended writing (after suitable preparation, of course), which is then assessed against a levelled marking grid.  We've not asked them to produce much in the way of extended writing before so we were a bit apprehensive.  However, their efforts and the outcomes both delighted and surprised us.  We must be doing the right thing in literacy lessons after all!
It was a fun subject based on what we've been doing for the past two weeks.  You have to take on board that the Big Bad Wolf (from the Three Little Pigs) was a totally misunderstood character.  He never meant to upset the pigs, he couldn't help damaging their houses but they were so fragile (Materials and Their Properties!!) that they just fell down when he knocked on the door/sneezed.  As for the third house, when you sneeze so hard that you land on the roof, what can you do but climb down the chimney . . .?
Anyway, the task was to be the wolf and write a letter to the pigs saying sorry, explaining what happened and saying what nice thing he was going to do to make amends.

There were lots of funny moments in their writing but the one that amused me the most was what two or three did.  On the whiteboard I usually write my WILFs - What I'm Looking For - in a little list under the heading WILF.  Two or three letters ended up with 'Love from the Big Good/Nice/Friendly/something similar WILF'  Ooops!

After school it was Mr Skittleman.  Mr Skittleman is basically a local party entertainer chap who is brave enough to head up events involving nearly the whole of the Infant department.  It is run by our Friends of the school association and is very, very noisy indeed.  I'm surprised the hall roof didn't fly off.  When I left they were having a dancing competition with Y1 jugging around and the other two years watching and cheering.  Oh, my!!

Today should be good too.  It's a mini-Mantle of the Expert day for Y1.  Teachers will know what that is, or you can Google it.  They are going to be a house design company and they will receive a letter from the wolf asking them to help him design a house for the pigs because, of course, there are three of them living in a house built for one so it's all very difficult and, because he feels responsible, he wants to help them.  As it's my SEN day and I'm leading performance management, I won't get to see much of the fun at all.  Ah well!

And finally - it's cold outside again.  There's a heavy frost which is quite a surprise after the mildness of yesterday.  Wrap up warm time.

Thursday, 26 January 2012

Thursday morning

Thursday, already!  And yesterday we got paid so almost the end of the month too.  Just over two weeks to go and we are half way through the school year.  Scary stuff!

Yesterday M and I were in charge of the school!  Nothing untoward happened, thank goodness.  Staff meeting was very short as we were not sure what we were expected to do so we didn't.  It was nice to get all the marking, etc, done in good time too, and be home before five.

Apart from that, life plods on and I seem to spend the rest of my time either working, sleeping or thinking about sleeping!  Never mind, half term is coming up and I can do some more serious decluttering!  The daily routines are becoming more established, especially in the mornings.  The evenings are not so brilliant really!

Fly Lady has a morning routine.  The Slob has a checklist.  I've combined the two on my fridge door.  I wondered how different my morning routine is from Fly Lady so I compared.  The first and most obvious thing is that she evidently does NOT wake up stupidly early each morning!  The rest follows on, I guess . . .
-Get Dressed to Shoes including Hair/Face, Brush Teeth
Well, no way!!!  No way am I getting dressed at four o'clock in the morning!!  I wake, come down, kettle on, PC on, make coffee, check emails, and blogs, write my blog, make breakfast/lunch, check planning and make/print off any outstanding resources (not necessarily in that order, it all depends).  After making breakfast, I tidy, put things in the dishwasher, wash and dry by hand if necessary and wipe over all the surfaces, shining ,my sink with the vinegar and water spray.
At about 6:30, maybe a little later, I'm upstairs to have my bath and brush teeth, then get dressed ready for school!

- Make Bed
Yup - after getting dressed.  And I make it so that it airs through the day by folding the duvet in a three way zig-zag at the bottom of the bed.  Works for me!

-Swish & Swipe
Yes, I do that - if I use the downstairs loo I give that a quick wipe over (it doesn't need much at all if it's done every day) and I do the loo and wash basin while the bath is running, and the bath after I've used it (obviously).  It's all a lot easier now I do it every day and things are starting to look shiny again.  I also wipe over door handles, loo holders, etc.  It's a nice feeling when it's done (and those who know me well will be amazed at this, I am sure).

-Empty Dishwasher
No way - it's only at the weekend or when I have visitors that I have a full load in a day.  The rest of the week it's a turn through the rinse cycle for two or maybe three days before it's full enough for a full wash.  Luckily I have enough china, etc, and I always do my new(ish) pans by hand.

-Reboot Laundry (a Load a Day Keeps CHAOS Away)
As above.  Washing and ironing are weekend tasks only, unless I have visitors.  Two loads, maybe three, is all I have to do.  There are decided benefits to living on your own and this is very definitely one of them!

-Check Your Calendar
Rarely necessary until I get to school, then I look at my planning in detail.

-Check Your Control Journal
I think she means my check list.  I do that before I leave for school, just for the pleasure of ticking things off.  I've not missed a recycling pick up since I started my checklist and I was always letting the stuff pile up before.  I'm pleased to have got that one sorted.

It's all a whole bundle easier when all I have to manage is myself.   I'm really not sure how well it would work if others were sabotaging my efforts.  I suspect a whole load of resentment and anger would build if others didn't share the load.  I mean, just imagine shining the sink and then the kids dump a load of dirty dishes in there.  Grrrr. 

I think I have a long way to go here!  :0)

And you know what - I missed Target Tuesday - AGAIN!
So (and apologies for the long blog) I'm not leaving it another week:  here we go!

1. Get the sink and hob shiny (which means a lot more than just that, of course) morning and evening.
Yes, done that apart from one evening.  They gat a shine morning and evening and the kitchen has never had it so good!

2. To clear out the three drawers in the computer desk.
Er -

3. To get the Christmas things out to the garage.
Yes indeedy!  All done, sorted and tidied with help from DD and DG, bless them!

Now I have to think of new targets.  Watch this space!  ;0)

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Wednesday morning

It was a miserable day yesterday, weather-wise, wasn't it?  Wet playtime, wet lunchtime so by the afternoon the children were going stir crazy.  Fortunately we had a practical science activity for them which actually went quite well and I was thankful that the rain stopped in time for infant afternoon play.  J and I bundled ourselves up warmly and stood guard valiantly over a wet and splashy playground.  The children were warned that wet shoes and socks/tights from illegal puddle activity would not be viewed sympathetically and maybe it would be a good idea to look where they were going so they didn't bump and fall.  As a result, we had fewer casualties than usual which just goes to show . . . something or other.

Today is PPA, then ICT followed by science assessments in the afternoon and with staff meeting once the children have disappeared.  A long day.  It's damp and soggy outside but not actually raining so here's hoping!  I was organised yesterday so the recycling is by the front door, ready to be put in position when I go to school - I seem to have an awful lot of card in the bag and will be glad to see the back of it.

Well, better get going with a nice hot bath . . .

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Tuesday morning

And after a very early bedtime and a little wakey spell in the night, I have slept well and late (comparatively speaking, of course).  To my shame I didn't bother to do my clean and shine in the kitchen yesterday evening and, oh dear, wasn't I ashamed of myself this morning.  Habits HAVE to to practised to become habits in the first place.  I'm sure you will be delighted to know that it's all shiny again and the dishwasher is humming away merrily.

Last night I had the duck breast that I vacupacked and then vacu-slow-cooked last week.  It's been in the fridge ever since.  Like everything else I have tried, it was delicious.  Very tender and juicy.  I now have a little bit of stock and some dripping so I guess roasties need to be on the menu soon.  There was a bit of veg roast left over from DD's lunch on Sunday which needs jazzing up so I might roast the spuds and then chuck the veg roast and chuck that in with the potatoes.  A few rings of onion and some yellow peppers should flavour it up as well.  I can do it all in Handy Andy too!  Easy!

Well, it's half past six so better go and have my bath and get stuff together for the day ahead.

Monday, 23 January 2012

Monday evening

I'm definitely on the mend.  After a whole day's teaching (no non-contact, cover, etc) plus taking infant singing and being on playground duty, I am tired but not exhausted, not worn out, not incapable of independent thought.  This is good.  What isn't so good is that I think one of my lovely colleagues may have caught the virus though.  Not something I would wish on my worst enemy, let alone someone as nice as that.  Ho hum . . .

Sunday, 22 January 2012

Sunday late afternoon.

It's past five o'clock and it's still not completely dark.  The days are certainly starting to get longer again now, which is brilliant.  We're a month, more or less, past the shortest day.  It's nearly February, a shorter month.  The snowdrops are out in the garden.  All encouraging!

While the ham was vacucooking in the slow cooker I also slipped in some vacupacked lamb leg steaks for DG and me.  Mmmmmmmmmmm.  Definitely these will be done again in the same way.  I just made a gravy with the juice that came out, and it was extremely tasty.

Before lunch I managed to get out for a silver loo seat hunt.  I first tried at Tesco homestore as the web site said it did them, but no luck.  However, Tesco did have some memory foam pillows, proper ones, not a shaped slab that is way too small for the pillow case.  Now I've slept well with the topper and the 'slab' so I felt justified in paying rather more than I would usually pay for a pillow.  Fingers crossed.  So then it was further on to Argos where I had no trouble getting what I was looking for.  At home I read the instructions with some trepidation - last time I had to ask DS to do the necessary as I couldn't understand what it was telling me to do but this time there were diagrams and words and it was as clear as a bell (and easy too).  And it looks good!  I had great delight in chucking the old one in the bin.

And finally I had eggs and lemons to use up so, of course, what else but lemon curd the microwave way.  I now have two pots of lemon lusciousness, one for a friend who barters with me for eggs that her hens lay and the other for DD and DG who rather love my lemon curd.

A most satisfactory day!  I like weekends.

Sunday morning

After a pretty busy morning and a fairly lazy afternoon (apart from the ironing), I managed to stay up until nine and, would you believe, slept more or less solidly until six this morning.  Virtually unheard of, that is.  I'm very obviously on the high road to recovery again, croaky voice to the contrary notwithstanding.  I suppose the glasses of rose I had through the evening must have helped somewhat, but not for that long, surely.

I did intend to go shopping early but didn't really get going fast enough.  I wasn't doing nothing, dear me, no, I did most of the Saturday tasks good and early, but didn't get dressed.  So the bedding was changed, the bedroom cleaned and dusted, the bathroom and the downstairs loo cleaned and shined, the kitchen wiped over, etc.  I put a loaf on to bake (half and half wholemeal and granary, which makes an absolutely delicious loaf) and the white washing went into the machine.  By the time I was dressed it was just too close to George arriving so I waited until he got here, gave him his instructions and paid him, then set off for Sainsbury's. 

While there, I saw that they had some likely looking small gammon hams (or parts thereof) on special so I got one, as it would be cheaper to boil that up for my sandwich fillings for the coming week than to buy sliced cooked meat.  When I got home and sorted everything out, I realised that it was, of course, vacuum packed, so I just slid it straight into my slow cooker still in its wrapping, where it has been slowly cooking ever since.  It's out now and cooling but if it has not completely cooked (it should have) I will just revac it and pop it back in again!  The lamb leg steaks are also vacooking in there for DG and me for dinner today.

I managed to half do one of my challenges for the weekend - the table is now all folded up and ready to go out.  It's amazing how much bigger it looks over that side of the room without the clutter.

As for today - I'm hoping to get out to Argos this morning to get a silver loo seat.  Yes, I know it sounds blingy but it isn't.  When I had my bathroom redone in the 90s, I went for a grey suite (can't get them now) which I liked then and still do now, although I know that colours are so last century for most.  Inevitably, the loo seat broke after a while and I couldn't get a replacement, so went for silver, which looks lovely.  A matte silver, more like a slightly shiny grey, than anything sparkly.  I've had a lot of hassle with that loo seat and have put up with it, fiddling with the screws now and again and trying to get it fitting properly, but I have decided that enough is enough and I'm getting a new one.  So onto Google I went to discover that the one I got (from B&Q) has heavily critical reviews covering the problems I have had as well as other issues.  So I'm not getting another one from them.  Fortunately, Argos seems to have a silver one too which has better reviews, including that it is easy to fit, so I guess I will go for that!  I can't afford much so whatever I get will be pretty basic.

Unfortunately, Argos is on the same site as places like Comet, Computer World and - wait for it - Hobbycraft (yay), so I may be gone some time, friends!   How sad . . .  :0)

Edited to add:  Re. the ham:  it was cooked.  Deliciously, lusciously, tenderly cooked.  A little stock had come out, very intense flavoured stock, but I let it cook in the bag and some was re-absorbed.  And it didn't shrink much in cooking.  The little stock I have left can be the basis for a green pea soup, I think - just a single portion.
I think I am always going to cook hams like this now, assuming they fit into the slow cooker.  My lunch sarnies are going to be absolutely delicious this week!  AND I saved money.

Saturday, 21 January 2012

Saturday morning

It's the weekend at last.  Thank goodness.  This week has been hard work with a failing voice and a cold that is fighting me every inch of the way.  Bedtime was just after seven last night - I'm sure I was asleep well before many of my pupils! - so, inevitably, I woke at extremely stupid o'clock, aka before one o'clock.  Age brings wisdom of sorts and I have given up tossing and turning and trying to get back to sleep again: I came down, had a coffee and a little snack and did a bit of computer stuff until I felt the tiredness return, whereupon I went back up, read for a short while and found my way back into the Land of Nod.  So I've actually had a very, very good night's sleep really.

Yesterday, being SEN day, was different.  Meetings, organising performance managements and observations all contrived to keep me going and interested.  I popped in on the Gym Trail in the hall to see how things were going.  I got off lightly - it was wet playtimes and I was supposed to be on playground duty p.m.  I was supposed to take a recorder lesson but, with children in the bay (because of wet lunchtime), I couldn't.  So I escaped to the staff room and had some comparative peace and quiet in there, a great relief!

And now it's the weekend.  Plans for today include early shopping, the usual weekend tasks (I hesitate to call them chores because I'm trying to get out of the mindset that sees them as 'chores') and some decluttering.  The last includes six rather out of control drawers and enough of the shed so I can put away the fold up table!  If I get that done I will be very happy!

Friday, 20 January 2012

Friday morning

A big parcel arrived at school for me yesterday.  Imagine the surprise when I informed our secretary that it was two packs of muslin nappies.  She gave me such quizzical looks that I had to explain that they would not be going anywhere near a baby's bottom, dear me, no.  Muslins are the very best thing I know for polishing, wiping, buffing up and generally keeping the house looking nice.  I've used them for years but some of the ones I presently use are getting a bit battered, stained and generally yuck.  Fine for keeping behind doors and bringing out when needed before being dumped in the washing basket, but not fine for being out on 'display (e.g. in the bathroom, loo or kitchen).  It hasn't helped that I used some of them for pushing blackberry puree through to get rid of the residual pippy gunge!  So I got some more and, the way they last, they are likely to see me out.  Therefore, although the initial outlay is high, I reckon that overall I will save money.  Time was when you used to be able to buy muslin very cheaply to make your own cloths, but no longer, not by the time you count the sylko and, important for me, the time it would take.

I'm hoping two more parcels will arrive today.  It cannot have escaped your notice, gentle reader, that I have a new kitchen toy.  It came with plenty of bags and rolls to make bags and one vacuum container - very strong plastic with a lid that fits a hose attachment to the vacupacker so that the air can be sucked out.  There's a button to release the vacuum when you want what's inside.  DD commented that vacupackers aren't very 'environmental' and she may have a point, but the container is more so, I believe.  It's also good for delicate things that would crush inside a vacu-bag - things like fruit salad, salad, vegetable leftovers, etc. - things that keep in the fridge with a short life that can be extended under the right conditions.  For example, I made a fruit salad on Monday.  Normally, by now (had I kept it this long) the fruit would be mushy, but in the container it is still crisp and whole. So I've ordered more of the containers in various shapes and sizes and intend to try a salad next, to see how long that lasts, especially lettuce which does go off pretty quickly.  I think I will also try potato, just to see.  In the summer they will be good with soft fruit - strawberries, etc.  Great for the healthy eating: I can prepare large amounts of fruit and salad each weekend and go at them through the week when I'm often too tired to make the required effort.  That's the hope anyway!  Time alone will tell whether it's a realistic one or not.

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Thursday morning

 . . . and it is raining cats and dogs here.  It should be outdoor games after play but that's very much in doubt now.  Even if it stops raining (and the forecast doesn't look optimistic) the playground will be full of puddles and I don't have the strength of character to contemplate 29 pairs of soaking wet plimmies drying in the bay for the rest of the day, not to mention socks over the radiator.

This decluttering is definitely a transferable skill.  I have tidied the sink at school and attempted a shine.  My table is gradually being cleared of unnecessary stuff too.  Wow!!!  Long may it continue!

I forgot about Target Tuesday again.  Oh, dear.  I won't update now, I'll leave it until next Tuesday and hope I don't forget!  I must be getting old to keep forgetting like that!

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Wednesday evening

Must just post because I have come on in and can see that I have hit my 20,000th visitor.  Thank you, whoever you may be, and thank you to all my lovely readers, at home or away.

Wednesday morning

. . . and it's nowhere near stupid o'clock this morning.  I know some of my readers may consider 05:17, which is what the PC clock says, still rather stupid, but I don't: it's dangerously close to a lie in for me!  After yesterday's long hours awake, I was worn out by home time, went to sleep in my chair for about an hour (ooops), finally got to bed at around nine and fell straight asleep.  So you can see that I've had a jolly good night's sleep, in fact.

There's a mist over the world today, the local world anyway, but no frost.  I'm glad - the playgrounds were rather treacherous yesterday morning and it was jolly cold.  And it took forever for me to scrape the frost off the car windows!!

School went well yesterday.  I was thrilled with how they all did in maths.  They 'chose' well while the art activity was going on.  All very good.  And then they went and spoilt it by leaving the role play in a tip.  It's a shared area and J was as cross as I was about it, so we've both prepared a ton of bricks to deliver today.  Not until after play though, as it is PPA first thing.  Never mind, I am sure that, like a good wine, it will improve with keeping!

It may sound really pathetic (OK, so 'may' isn't the right word) but I was so tired yesterday that I couldn't find the energy to cook a proper dinner so the salomon didn't get eaten.  On the basis that fish is OK for breakfast, it's boiling away in the bag now while, in the slow cooker, there's some braising steak and that duck breast.  I will decide which one I want this evening and the other can chill and do for tomorrow.  No problems.

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Tuesday morning

Yes, it's stupid o'clock!  I went to bed pretty early and am now wide awake, downstairs, I've got today and tomorrow's dinners out of the freezer to thaw slowly and I'm wondering if I will crash out again in time for a bit more sleep.  Looking at the time I would say it's unlikely!  Ho hum!

There's a heavy frost out there again, but today I'm not concerned about a cold school.  Yesterday the heating was up the spout and it was jolly cold.  The parents had been warned and the children came in sensible, warm layers or clothing, rather than their usual uniform.  Little fan heaters kept the bays reasonable until the heating came back on.  I do love our semi-open-plan layout, but it does mean that someone opens a door four bays further down and the cold spreads rapidly!  However, once the heating was back on, it also spread round quickly and warmth reigned supreme again

Well, Diane, I was most impressed with the pork yesterday after it had been vacupack cooked in the slow oven all day.  It makes me realise quite how much flavour can be lost in ordinary cooking.  Some stock did come out so I added it to the baked beans (yes, I had pork and beans, very cowboy) and boiled them away until the sauce was thick again and it was all very tasty with melt in the mouth meat that I just quickly browned off in a saucepan.  If I had been having it with a sauce I wouldn't have bothered to do that, it was only for the look of the thing really.  I'm not a great fan of chewy meat, I much prefer it very tender, so it's definitely one to do again.  Today is a salmon steak to boil in the bag so that will just do on the hob.
My slow oven is virtually an antique.  I bought it at some point in the 1970s so it's got to be over 30 years old.  It's been used on and off all that time so it's given great service.  Sadly, the pot is beginning to show some wear and tear and I'm beginning to wonder how long it can keep going.  Perhaps it is time to look around for a new one.  I'll have a little think about that.

You maybe haven't noticed but I have a blog counter because it's nice to know that people are reading what I write, waffle or not!  The counter I used to go by was run by someone who sold it on last year and since then, unfortunately, it has been rather unreliable - it's often not working and when I email about it, never once have I received a reply.  I had another counter that was tucked away at the bottom of the blog page so I shoved the unreliable one down to the bottom and moved the other up, the one you can now see at the top.  I have to say I do like this one: I'm not sure how they organise the counts but it shows a lot more visitors that the old one and it's moving up encouragingly fast.  It's not long until I hit the 20,000 mark which is great.  I know it's small beer really, this blog, it's in no way a commercial concern but I'm happy with it just the way it is.  So thank you to all my 'gentle readers' and please do feel free to leave comments if you want.  It would be lovely to hear from you.

Monday, 16 January 2012

Monday morning

It's turned bitterly cold again after a bit of a lull yesterday and there 's a heavy frost at the moment.  This is unfortunate because the heating is not working at school and we have all been told to come wearing plenty of layers for warmth, children and adults alike.  I'm taking my gloves and my woolly lined boots in case and there might be some temporary heating in place.  Hopefully the heating people will sort it all out quickly and we won't be shivering for long.

It was nice this morning, coming down to a non-Christmas invaded living room.  I'm so glad everything finally got sorted out and put away.  Just a few bits and bobs to sort now and I'm labelling that a Clutter Corner item!

After reading about Diane's investigations with her new Sous Vide machine, I though I would try something.  I'm not buying a sous vide myself, not even thinking of it, but I have one vacupacked pork steak remaining in the fridge and I thought I would get out the slow cooker, put in water, and roughly imitate the effects.  So it's out on the top, simmering away with the pork steak in.  We will see . . .!

Sunday, 15 January 2012

Sunday late afternoon

. . . and I have discovered that I can change the bedding and clean my bedroom in just over 20 minutes, providing it is tidy.  Now that's definitely an incentive for keeping it clutter free.  I also managed to Dyson the landing at the same time, and the smallest bedroom.  Yay for me!

While chatting to DD after dinner, I managed to sort out all the Christmas boxes and, with help from DG, they are all back in the garage together with the Christmas tree, so the whole living room looks a lot better again - OK for guests once more!  There's just a little more clutter to sort out and then the big gopak table can get folded up and out into the shed and that's that for another year!

It's been a nice day.  Sunshine is always cheering and warms the house.  DD and I had a good chat about good things and now I feel encouraged.  The old sinuses are twinging but I am putting that down to excessive nose blowing, nothing more.  Mind over matter is a Good Thing.  And I have found out what the flylady means by swish and swipe (or whatever the phrase is): it means clean your loo!!  That's today's bit of - er - useful information!

Sunday morning - a little bit later.

Well - I found the timer and got side-tracked.  I ordered a Chinese yesterday evening and couldn't manage very much of it so there it was, looking at me as I went into the kitchen!  So, given that I have a new toy, I divided it into two meals and vacupacked them, ready to go out to the freezer later on.  I now have enough stuff for meals for all week.  Useful!

So now I'm off upstairs - yes I am, really!

Sunday morning

Oh, dear, the new neat and tidy me seems to be taking a back track at the moment.  I  could make a long list of the things I didn't do yesterday that I intended to do.  This will never do, must get my skates on today and catch up.  This is not good, not good at all.

The thing is, I have been enjoying being in a place that I could invite anyone into.  Yes, the furniture may be a bit dusty, but it is neat and tidy and I'm not ashamed of it.  I don't want that to stop now, I really don't.  Looking around, it's not all that bad, but not all that good either and could quickly tip over into 'bad'.   Aaarrrggghhhh . . .

I think today I will be a flybaby.  I haven't really taken to flylady (no rude comments, thanks), it's just not my cuppa black coffee.  I find much of it a bit twee in the outworking and not me and it is certainly quite commercial with all its rags (presumably dusters and cleaning cloths, not what we British mean by 'rags') and bottles and yabba-dabba-doos, but many of the underlying principles are good and one that I will employ today is the one that says you can actually get a lot done in a short time if you stop using perfectionism as an excuse for not starting and just get going.  So I'm doing the 15 minutes working thing today.  I wonder just how much I can get done in 15 minutes, when I don't keep stopping to do a bit of social networking.

The first job on the list is to strip and remake the bed with new sheets and get the old ones into the washing machine . . . now, where's that timer?

Saturday, 14 January 2012

Saturday evening

Well, I shopped - and I slept - and I vacu-packed two cauliflower cheese grills, two duck breasts and four bits of salmon (on special) and they are now in the freezer.

And then I slept again.

My excuse is that I'm getting better and that takes a lorra energy.  OK?  :0)

Saturday morning

Feeling somewhat more like it this morning.  The waking up clearance (so to speak) was shorter and less unpleasant, the aches seem to have gone (phew) and the throat is working OK again!  Yay!!!

To celebrate (???) I had a little rootle through the fridge and found some vegetables that are approaching old age so I decided to investigate the vacu-thing - must think of a name - to see it their life could be extended.  So I boiled the carrots until nearly done and the sprouts are currently blanching.  The idea is to vacu-pack them in single portions and reheat them as boil in the bag when needed.  According to the book, it should work.  We shall see. 

Don't do this though!  I should have used the pulse function, I didn't and can't you tell!!!  I could knock a burglar out with it!

Since starting back to school the decluttering has, inevitably, taken a back seat.  Today I want to get all the decorations back into the garage and do more book sorting.  I also need to go shopping for various things that are running out so I seem to have a busy morning ahead of me!

Better go and rescue the sprouts now!

Friday, 13 January 2012

Friday evening

Well, I made it until lunchtime so got the morning's training/ word done.  It was fish and chips for lunch provided by the school but I didn't stay, I came home and missed the lunch and the afternoon session.  Never mind . . .

I have learned something.  It is very difficult to vacuum pack a part baked baton - or maybe I mean it is far, far too easy!  I might take a photo of the mangled results tomorrow and it's not something I will be trying again, that's for sure.  You live and learn!

Now it is weekend.  An early night beckons.  Sleep well, everyone.

Friday morning

I have a new toy!  My vacuum packer arrived at school yesterday (I always give the school address if it's likely to arrive on a workday).  The extra bags had arrived the day before which was most tantalising.  It was in a huge box, so large I wondered what on earth I had ordered, but actually it turned out to be more or less the expected size, thank goodness!

Once I got home it was a case of working out how to unpack it - quite a challenge - admiring its shiny beauty (yes, something else to shine!!) and reading the instructions carefully.  I'm starting small with two salmon fillets and a couple of pork chops to be kept in the fridge over the shorter term and I will try Diane's idea of some stewed fruit.  I have to use up some meat in the freezer but after that I will be looking for bargain stuff that I can buy in a little more bulk.

It's jolly cold out there today.  There's a very heavy frost which ought to see off the remaining flowers (I still have lupins growing!) from last year.  By the time I have to leave for school, I hope I won't have to scape the car too much.  Today is a non pupil day but we expect to have to work very hard indeed.  So why, at this moment, does it feel like a holiday?  Wishful thinking, I suspect.

Later addition:  Oooooh, it works!  Very clever stuff.  Now I have to discover how long the steaks will keep in the fridge!

Thursday, 12 January 2012

Ooops - sorry Lisa-Jane

Over the last few days I have had trouble seeing comments.  The screen just goes blank and nothing happens.  Now, I hate that.  I feel so very rude if I don't reply to comments that people have been kind enough to make.
So when I saw that comments had been made and I couldn't see them, I was embarrassed.  I could see them on the page devoted to comments, but not in a way that enabled me to reply.  I didn't like that one bit.

So, Lisa-Jane, I thought as you'd just started commenting, there might be some sort of clash that mixed up my comments thingy.  OK, so that's silly, but remember I am a techno-idiot!!  So I deleted your comments.  No success.  Then I remembered that I had changed the background.  So I went exploring and saw that I had options for comments.  I chose the pop up in a dialogue box option and lo and behold, I can see and answer comments again.  However, I can't get L-J's comment back.

So, L-J, I am so sorry, you are very welcome here and please do leave more comments . . . hopefully this won't happen again.  And to anyone else I seem to have ignored in the last few days - I haven't really, I just couldn't respond.

Fingers crossed this will sort it though . . .


I may have been back at school yesterday, but that doesn't mean I saw my lovely class much.  PPA in the morning was great.  J and I got loads done and, for one, last year's planning for next week was just about right all the way through so it's just a question of moving stuff around and redoing the differentiation.  That doesn't happen very often, believe me.  You can't just take the planning from year to year and expect it to work with an entirely different class.  It has to be changed to meet the needs of the current class and, of course, the number of helpers you happen to have. 

Having done PPA, it was into the ICT suite after play for some Talking Topics.  There's some lovely software around nowadays and TT is just one of them with its chapters and moving bits and the ability to read the words to the children . . .

Afternoon saw me in a meeting while another teacher took my class again.  No staff meeting so I came home early, at about 4:30 because,  frankly, I was worn out.  I'm umming and ahing right now as to whether I go in today because I've had a very rough night with the coughing, etc, and feel pretty yuck, but I guess I will!

See you later!

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Wednesday: Heigh ho, Heigh ho

. . .  it's off to school I go.  No, I'm not sure I'm totally OK for going back but - well, that's what teachers do!  Today starts with PPA and then moves into ICT suite, so, with luck, it won't seem too long a day.

And I forgot again!  Target Tuesday!  My attempts to organise my blog a little bit are failing miserably, aren't they?  So here we are: Target Tuesday, aka Wednesday (again).

Last week's targets:
1.  The daily checklist.  Working a treat and becoming part of my routines.  It needs modifying a bit, but it's working well.
2.  A drawer a day.  Yes, did that until I got ill.  All the kitchen drawers are now spanking clean and tidy and I need to move into other rooms.
3.  Eye for Detail - which has changed name and is now 'Clutter Corner'.  I tackled that kitchen corner and sorted it, plus keeping a few danger spots clutter free (more or less)

The new targets:
1.  Get the sink and hob shiny (which means a lot more than just that, of course) morning and evening.
2.  To clear out the three drawers in the computer desk.
3.  To get the Christmas things out to the garage.

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Tuesday evening

. . . well, late afternoon, starting to get dull, not all that far off being dark. anyway.

It's been a dull day.  I've slept, coughed, spluttered, sneezed, ached, gradually felt better and decided I will be OK for school tomorrow.  I hope . . .

I've googled stuff and discovered that my vinegar and water mixture doesn't have to smell of chip shop.  You can add essential oils to make it smell lovely.  So I did.  My favourite is lavender but I don't have much of that, so I added apple oil instead and put the former on my shopping list.  I'm not sure I'm ever going to buy expensive, shiny sink stuff again as the home made stuff brings my sink up a treat.  It works on the hob too, although I will need the proper stuff for spills that need more than a wipe and a buff up but, judging by the number of bottles of Hob-Brite I found when I cleared the cupboard under the sink, it will be literally years before I need to buy any more!

Evidence . . .

. . .  and honestly, all it took was a spray and a buff up, nothing more.

Tuesday morning

Still not well, still off school.  No panics as it's all in J's capable hands and she will see my supply teacher right and right at this moment I am content to leave it all to her.  I don't think she reads this but, if by any chance she does, many thanks J, you are a star.

Well, didn't get a lot done yesterday, which is probably only right as I should have been at school.  I did manage a bit of ironing and I did shine my sink.  I'm not really a Flybaby, more a reforming Slob, but I have to admit that what a shiny sink represents is good.  As my sink is stainless steel, all it needs is a quick spray from a mixture of 1/3 white vinegar and 2/3 water and then a buff up with a muslin.  I learnt about the mixture from The Perfect Housewife - it's supposed to be good for windows too, but I haven't tried that yet.  It certainly clears any scale from the sink and taps.  I have had the muslins for ages - they are really muslin nappies and pretty expensive, but they last and last, wash brilliantly and do a wide variety of jobs.  Well worth the money.

Depending on how I feel, I might attack the three small drawers to the right of where I am sitting.  They were in reasonable order and then DG decided to reorganise them and  - well, they need some work now!  :0)    Apart from that, I anticipate doing not an awful lot unless I start feeling better.  Something I have learnt though, that I can do now that the kitchen is tidy.  The very first thing I do in the morning is either boil a kettle for coffee or re-heat coffee made yesterday in the filter coffee machine.  It takes roughly two and a half minutes.  In that time, given tidy working surfaces, I can run an antibacterial wipe over all the working surfaces and over machines like Handy Andy, the toaster, the microwave, etc.  It's kind of nice to know the kitchen is starting off clean.

I know they're not really frugal, but I do like the packets of antibacterial wipes you can get.  I keep one in the downstairs loo, one in the bathroom, one in my bedroom and a couple of packs in the kitchen.  For example, the downstairs loo: two wipes, one for the sink and other surfaces and one for the loo and the whole place is wiped down in literally less than two minutes.  The bathroom takes a little longer because I will just have had my bath, but not that much longer.  I am always mindful of the Perfect Housewife injunction to use separate cloths for the loo and other surfaces.  She had a little rhyme to help you remember:  Pink for the sink and blue for the loo, it went.  I don't use J cloth type wipes, but the rhyme is still helpful and makes me smile.  And I reckon the non-frugality of the wipes is more than counterbalanced by the longevity and usefulness of the muslins!

At this point (7:25) I would usually be saying 'better get up and go to school now', but today I am not.  I am saying 'must find the energy to get up and move to my recliner for a snooze.'  :0)  See you later.

Monday, 9 January 2012

Monday morning

. . . and the cold or whatever it is has totally landed.  Coughs, aches, snuffles - the lot!  Again!  I phoned our Headteacher yesterday evening and am taking the day off school today.  It's a right pain (in more than one way) so I redid today's planning in more detail and sent it over to J with a necessary work sheet and see from a thingy at the bottom of the monitor that she has opened it and answered, which is a huge relief.

I think I have decided that I will keep a couple of spare towels in the nice basket that is redundant after the corner de-clutter yesterday.  I love those enormous bath sheets and rarely use anything else except for my hair.  I think they will look nice sitting in a basket in my bedroom.  But apart from that, I doubt I will do any more de-cluttering today.  Perhaps a bit of ironing, I'll see how I feel but right now I guess I will go back to bed shortly, now that I know J has received the planning, the resources and info about various other things that need to be done today.  Monday is always a busy day . . .

See you later.

Sunday, 8 January 2012

Clutter corner.

This time it's a corner of the kitchen that I was so used to that it hardly registered as terribly, terribly cluttered.



Hardly believable, is it?  And it honestly didn't take very long at all.  Handy Andy has to stay there because I use him an awful lot and I have a rather nice basket (the one in the corner) that I don't know what to do with at the moment, but I'm sure I will find something!

And so as not to bore my readers tomorrow, here's the other drawer I tidied today.  MUCH better!

Two shiny drawers

I'm sure this is getting VERY boring for anyone with the patience to keep reading, but, for me, it's helping considerable.  By posting here, it gives me a sense of accountability which is keeping me at it.  

These were two of the worst drawers.  Note, I said 'were'.  Not any more.  A few old, manky bits did get thrown away and a few bits put on Facebook (and immediately snapped up) but mostly it was a question of organisation, nothing more.  Mind you, I was pretty ashamed of the muck once each drawer had been emptied, so they've had a good wipe over too.

I thought I had taken photos of before, but it seems I hadn't and it's too late now.  Here's the afters though.

Not bad, eh?

Sunday morning

. . . and the main news from my perspective is that the flippin' cold has come back with a vengeance.  I went to bed with some paracetamol with ensured that the aches kept their distance, but they're back today with a cough to match.  Oh, drat and double drat!  I was going over to DDs for lunch but I think I am going to cry off, partly because I don't want to share this cold with her and partly because I suspect I will be sleeping on and off today.

I'm glad I set to yesterday and got stuff done.  Not only did I manage to sort the contents of two cupboards, not just the one, the Christmas Tree came down and is now packed away in the new bag.  It's all a bit of a mess in the living room right now as I really didn't feel up to carrying the whole lot out to the shed in the cold and dark, but I hope I will be able to sort that out properly in the next few days.

When I did the cupboards , there were a number of items that I no longer need but which were in perfectly good condition so I posted them onto our local Facebook 'free, come and collect' page.  I'm very pleased that all but one item have been claimed and will be picked up (I hope) within the next few days.  It saves me making a trip to the nearest charity shop.

Today I need to sort out a few corners that seem to be magnetically re-attracting clutter.  Eeeek!

Saturday, 7 January 2012

Saturday evening - the story of a cupboard

Once upon a time there was a cupboard.  It wasn't very big and it wasn't very accessible and it was sad because the kitchen lady threw things in and slammed the door quickly, as if she couldn't bear to stay and become better acquainted.  It was dark, dismal and very cluttered but it dreamed of being useful, clean and valued.

One day there was a rattle at the door and, to the cupboard's surprise, the doors were flung open wide and the kitchen lady actually climbed up a step ladder to take a good, smiley look.  Before the cupboard could even say 'hello' all its contents were taken out, a few at a time, and laid neatly on the surfaces below.  And then the kitchen lady started banging under the shelf, very hard, and removed it completely.  Oh, no, thought the cupboard, I'm being discarded, but no - after a good wipe over the shelf was replaced, but several notches further down, making a big, light, useful space, just asking for another shelf in the middle.  And it was so.  An additional shelf was ordered to be delivered some time in the near future.

The cupboard was very, very happy.  Even the replacing of a few temporary bits and pieces couldn't cast any shadow - at last it was going to fulfil its destiny.  It hardly considered all the things that had been removed, but would have been extremely happy to know that they were either given nice new homes in another cupboard or posted on a Facebook page alongside things from the other cupboard, where they proved very popular and were claimed in a short time. 
So they all lived happily ever after.

And that's a true story!  ;0)

Saturday morning

Four days in and we're back on holiday again!  Well, maybe not holiday exactly, but certainly not at work!  And next week is also a four day week as we have a non-pupil day on Friday which looks to be most informative and challenging.  So on Thursday morning (early), when I set to and recorded the next week's planning as I always do after our PPA on Wednesday, what did I do?  I planned five days, of course.  Doh!!!

I do like having PPA on Wednesdays.  It used to be Fridays and that meant that the recording and tweaking had to be done over the weekend, always a pain.  When it was Tuesdays we felt that we'd not really done enough of the week to tell whether things would need to be re-taught, etc.  But Wednesdays are perfect and getting the recorded planning done the next morning (only because I'm too tired in the evenings) gets it all off my mind.  There's time for J and me to put our own individual slants on it without feeling pressured.

So on to today.  There's a cupboard that needs urgent attention.  It's one of those cupboards that's not easy to get to.  One has to move the recycling bins and climb a step ladder so, of course, it rarely gets sorted out.  Usually I open one door and hopefully lob whatever needs to go back there up and over, shutting the door quickly before it has a chance to slide back out again.  I'm sure anyone who has charge and control of a kitchen knows exactly what I mean here!  That's today's big sort out and I will show you the full horror in pictures when it's all done.  Then, for Clutter Corner, there's that bit I showed you yesterday which really isn't going to take all that long but is now shouting to me each time I walk past it.  And finally there's the Christmas tree.  I did intend to do it yesterday but I was so whacked after school that I flopped, went to bed before eight and slept through until well after five today.  That's a jolly good long sleep!

Better go and make my porridge now - the cough is back and I need comfort food!

Friday, 6 January 2012

Friday morning: Twelfth Night

Wasn't it a blustery day yesterday?  Very heavy rain showers and fairly high winds. F and I decided that she should not take them out for games, a decision that was more than justified when the heavens opened.  They would have been absolutely soaked in the time it would take to get back to the classroom.  Fortunately, all the playtimes were dry though.  It seems a lot calmer today but much colder than before.  Perhaps we are getting some proper winter weather at last.

I managed to get another drawer cleared yesterday morning while my breakfast was cooking.  It really didn't take all that long and several utensils that probably haven't been used for years are now staring at the inside of the bin.  Today is Twelfth Night, of course, so this weekend's big de-clutter is to deal with the remaining decorations, including the tree, and get them into the garage.  I feel sad about this - the tree has looked beautiful and lights up a corner very attractively, but time moves on and Christmas is well behind us now.

I was thinking of my 'eye for detail' project and realised that, while the name describes what it is quite well, it's not grabbing me.  So I've changed it.  From now on it will be 'Clutter Corner'.  After all, it mostly is corners that seem to accumulate clutter, isn't it?  The idea is to deal with these little piles of clutter before they become big piles of clutter!  This weekend's is a corner of the kitchen - yes, I know I said the kitchen was tidy and clean, and so it is really, but this corner has been there for quite a while and is so familiar it doesn't catch my eye much.  Definitely time to deal with it!

Now that there's room for the books (there are loads of cookery books in the basket right in the corner) upstairs, I can clear it properly and it really shouldn't take all that long either.  Plenty of stuff to throw out too.  If I get some stick on hooks from Morrison's or Sainsbury's, I could hang that little bag of bags inside the big cupboard, the glass jars need to go out to the shed (they are the re-useable remains of when I sorted out the fridge and chucked the past use by date stuff out) and the lights do have a home already - just not there!

OK, well, better get on and make breakfast, have my bath, get dressed and set off for school.    Have a good day, everyone.

Thursday, 5 January 2012

Thursday morning

There's not a lot to say this morning really.  Now that school has started, my life is running along well oiled tracks and the checklist is really helping at home.  The kitchen remains nice and tidy, as does my bedroom - yay! 

Yesterday was marked by the finding of a music book for Y1 that we thought we'd lost.  How sad and yet how typical that this was the highlight of the day.  Today is my coordinator hour and I have a hymn rota to create.  How am I going to be able to stand the excitement thereof!  :0)

Flattering Little Boy said something nice - at least he thought it was nice.
"Mrs Clark, you're the most bestest teacher I have ever, ever had in Y1 . . ."  Er - right, yes.  Thank you.
And they wrote Resolutions.  'At school I will . . .' and 'At home I will . . .'  Positive statements rather than negative ones.
Some were funny!  Some were practical.  And several were downright impossible.  But never mind, the reflective bit is what matters.

Better get on with next week's planning . . .

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Target Tuesday a.k.a. Wednesday morning

I forgot, didn't I?  It didn't register that yesterday was Tuesday despite the title to my blog.  All this starting school on Tuesday makes me think it is Monday.  That's my excuse anyway!

Last week's targets:
1.  Sorting out the books:  I've made a start on this at last, getting covered with dust each time I take another handful of books off the shelf.  I'm hard on paperbacks so any that I discard will be bin fodder, not charity shop stuff.  Hardbacks are a different matter but I am not sure I want to get rid of hardbacks - they look nice on the shelves apart from anything else!

2.  The cupboard under the stairs.  Well, this is taking on 'elephant in the room' proportions, or maybe it's more like room 101.  Anyway, I think I'm dropping this one until I feel a bit stronger about it!  At least I can close the door and hide it all.

3.  To sort out the house after Christmas.  Yes, I'm on top of that with a little help from the nice ironing lady who took a whole basket full of clean bedding and turned it all into nicely ironed and folded beauty.  It certainly made a difference.  The house is definitely under control right now: some decorations have been put away and the rest will come down on Friday or over the weekend.  I'm feeling rather excited about using the new Christmas tree bag - isn't that sad?

And my bedroom is still nice and tidy.  Not totally clutter free and not spotless, but clear enough to be relaxing.  Good-oh!

New targets
I seem to have set some targets anyway over the last week, targets which will be daily and ongoing.  I won't regurgitate them in any detail here, there's no point.

1.  Keep up the daily checklist - because it's helping such a lot.

2.  A drawer a day!  Just one and it doesn't have to be a big one.

3.  Continue with the 'Eye for Detail' project.  This includes making sure that past 'details' are kept clear (looking ruefully at the computer table and rapidly adjusting a few things!!).  I can't guarantee one every day but three or four a week on an ongoing basis would make a big difference.

NOT the cupboard under the stairs!  There are two cupboards in this house that are really dire.  One is the cupboard under the stairs, the other is the cupboard over the stair head.  Personally, I blame the stairs - that's the common factor, isn't it?  It's those stairs - nothing to do with me!!

Being back at work was lovely and we were very fortunate with the weather really.  The children got morning and afternoon plays, although the puddles were rather too tempting for some.  Lunchtime had to be indoors though.  After morning play we had the fiercest, heaviest rain/hail storm I have ever seen.  It was so heavy that for a while we could only see about ten metres across the school field from the classroom window.  I feel very sorry for anyone who got stuck out in it because it was almost frightening and the noise in the flat roofed demountables must have been ferocious.  Today, I gather, is going to be better. 

We will see . . .

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Tuesday morning and a new term starts

. . . so, of course, it's lashing with rain outside, really pouring with an intensity that announces very firmly to anyone who is listening that it intends to stay that way for a while to come, playtime or no playtime.  Great - lines of wellies and a very wet floor, not to mention indoor play, is a wonderfully exciting start to the new term.  Just what we all need! 
I suppose we must be grateful - in Scotland it could be blizzards.

It will be nice to see the children again - I always miss them over the holidays and feel a bubble of excitement when the new term or half term looms.  I hope that never goes.

I know it's shameful but I cannot remember the last time I set off for a new term leaving a house that is reasonably tidy all through (I discount the garage from this!) and that could accommodate visitors at a moment's notice.  Notice I said tidy, not necessarily completely clean, but it won't take long to run a duster or the Dyson over if needed - because it's more or less tidy.

I remembered to take an 'after' picture of the knife and fork drawer.  I wish I knew how to put photos side by side in here but I don't - any advice gratefully received. 

Remember I said I'd cleaned a bit of the floor grout, using a mixture of two parts bicarb to one part white vinegar.  You can really see the difference in this photos - so that's another daily thing to do, rather more short term than most of the other daily checklist items!

And finally - I'm turning posh today!  When I sorted out the fridge I noticed that there was a pack of smoked salmon slices that didn't get opened over Christmas and which is getting close to its use by date.  So today it is scrambled egg with smoked salmon for breakfast and smoked salmon sarnies for lunch - I baked a nice half and half granary/wholemeal loaf yesterday which will be just the thing!  That, with some banana bread and an apple and satsuma should keep me going until the evening meal.

Better go and get started then!

Monday, 2 January 2012

The end of the Christmas Holiday

So sad.  It's been a nice break with time to rest as well as busyness at times.  Hiring out some of the tasks has worked well and I think I will do that again, assuming I can afford it.  Am I ready for school - well, yes, I am.  The planning is as done as it's going to be done.  The question really is, is school ready for me?  And the answer is no, sadly.  I did intend to go into school at some point for a good clear up but didn't manage.  Now I'm feeling a bit better I can say that I've been feeling quite rough for most of the holiday, on and off.  The cough is taking a very long time to clear and hasn't really gone still.  As a result, I didn't feel up to facing the cold, the quiet and the mess.  Mea culpa!

So, today has been a continuing clear up day at home.  I managed to sort out two shelves of books, mostly old OU discontinued course books that no-one will ever want, so in the recycling sack they went.  I also sorted out another kitchen drawer.  You can tell how many years I have been ordering a turkey from Kelly's of Danbury because each year they include a meat thermometer with the bird, which I never use but always keep.  Today three of them got chucked and one kept (not totally sure why because I never use them but . . .).  I have to admit that was probably the easiest of the remaining drawers and there's worse to come.
This is the before picture:

This morning I mentioned trying a bit of Anthea mixture on the grouting between the floor tiles in the kitchen.  I tried it on a small area and, my goodness, it hasn't half made a difference.  Definitely one to do over the rest, especially where there's rather visible staining.

So now the rest is over, one more sleep and we're back to school.  I'm very much looking forward to it, all four days of it before the next weekend. 
Note to self: make sure the alarm is on!

Bank Holiday Monday

Yesterday was very, very lazy!  Very.  By the time DD and DG were motivated enough to go home, I decided that I might as well have a PJ day.  One of the delights of living alone is that occasionally one can indulge in this way and, seeing that I had no reason for going out, plus the fact that it was chucking it down a lot of the time, I did!

That meant, of course, that no decluttering or sorting was done (blame laziness, not PJs here).  I did take a look at the cupboard under the stairs, turned a whiter shade of pale and firmly closed the door again.  To recover from the shock, I watched the remaining episodes of Perfect Housewife, plus the Christmas Special!!  There's nothing like watching someone else do it, is there?
However, I had bustled around in the morning and tidied up after Saturday evening, so the place is in a reasonably OK state - I wouldn't have worried too much if someone came to the door and needed to be invited in, which is my baseline for housework neurosis.

I did, however, feel somewhat guilty this morning about not having dealt with one cupboard or drawer so, inspired by Diane's good example, I took a look at my pots and pans drawers.  To be fair to myself, most of my kitchen cupboards are not too bad as far as clutter is concerned, with a few disgraceful exceptions, and these are not exceptions.  I don't have loads of pots and pans although a few are in another cupboard because they won't fit in the two drawers, but what was rather shocking was the amount of dust and 'stuff' lying on the floor of each drawer.  However, because it's pretty organised in there, it took literally ten minutes to life everything out, give the drawers a good clean around and replace the contents.  These photos are 'befores' - they're a lot cleaner now.

Two saucepans and one lid were on the draining board when the photos were taken and the very big pot that I use for everything from boiling turkey carcasses to making jam and chutney is elsewhere, having been borrowed by a friend, but even so, you can see that it's all well in order!
Mind you, looking at the state of the grouting between the floor tiles, I really do need to do Anthea's thing of two parts bicarb to one part white vinegar and get to work with the toothbrush (yes, there is one under the sink).  Another thing to go on the list!

I have to be completely honest here and say that the other drawers are not anywhere near as tidy looking and do actually need a good declutter.  I have 'before' photos, so maybe they are something I can do today.

Something else I read in the Slob Blog was the 'thirty one days of details' project which entailed looking not at the big picture but at little corners for a more detailed declutter.  One such little corner (of which there are many in my house) caught my eye as I read, so I think I must take this approach as well.  They're five minute (or less) jobs, details, nothing more.  Anything bigger is not a 'detail'.  So this is my first Detail: it sits to the left of me as I type this blog entry and there's necessary stuff there (not all of it though).

Before (right now):  eeeek!

And about five minutes later (including dusting, washing up and putting away):  aaaahhhh!  That's better.

Better go and get my breakfast . . . all that work has made me hungry!

Sunday, 1 January 2012

Sunday: New Year's Day

Predictably, by 10:30 yesterday evening I had already fallen asleep several times, so I gave up and went to bed where I was out like a light, so much so that even the party poppers that DD and DG brought with them for midnight failed to dent my dreaming.

We should have been going to a house warming do just over the cul de sac but, sadly, the lady of the house was quite unwell so it was postponed.  DD and I were only going to stay for a short time and DG was looking forward to the responsibility of being left alone for a while and had written up some very sensible rules regarding not opening the door, answering the phone, etc.  Never mind, I am sure there will be another opportunity at some point soon.  Get well soon, A.

When DD and DG come over, DD brought her complete set of Poirot DVDs (which will not be complete soon as they have six more to make, but never mind!) and we had a very enjoyable evening revelling in Agatha Christie storytelling.  Just as I can now never think of Miss Marple without seeing Joan Hickson in my mind's eye, Poirot is for ever inextricably and definitively linked to the Suchet interpretation.  There are several I haven't seen yet so while DG and DD snore gently away upstairs, as soon as I have finished this blog, I will go up and get my hearing aids, switch on the TV loop thingy, turn the external TV sound right down and enjoy a bit more Poirot-fest without disturbing either the family or the neighbours!  Perfect.

Resolutions?  Well, I think I have made them this last week what with the daily checklist and the gentle de-cluttering and sorting out I have started.  Long may it continue: the house is already looking better and is nicer to be in and there's a definite sense of achievement that is most satisfying.

May 2012 be a happy, healthy, satisfying and successful year for you, no matter what you meet on the way.   Cheers .