Wednesday, 31 October 2012


 . . . and just about half way through the break!  Time does rush past at an alarming rate sometimes, doesn't it?

Well, yesterday was a lovely day, albeit rather rushed at times.  To start with I got going on some of my rather neglected moderater duties and sorted quite a lot of stuff out.  Then I checked the time my visitor was due to arrive and it's just as well I did.  I had it in my head as 11:00 but we'd set it for 10:30.  After that it was all a bit of a rush.  I'd promised muffins so I set to and mixed up my simplest (but tasty) recipe and popped them on to bake, during which time I had my bath and washed my hair, which was sadly yucky!   I got there - just!  Phew.

After that it was all rather pleasant.  Pippa came, we talked over coffee and warm muffins (mmmmmm) and she went, and then not long after that around came Beth and Alex, the latter lugging his suitcase along behind him.  Al and I went out to the Flyer for tea and then we had a pleasant, relaxing evening together.  I had to laugh this morning though.  I gather Al is slow to wake at home but here he's down not too long after I am - which is very early.

Today I have nothing else planned apart from Alex being here until Beth picks him up, so I must get on with just a little bit of school work, some more moddy stuff and some washing, drying and ironing.  And a lot of resting and relaxing!  Sounds good, doesn't it?

Tuesday, 30 October 2012


Another dull and grey day, damp and dismal right now and looking as if it is set for the day.  never mind, it may be Tuesday and playground duty day, but it's HALF TERM (just in case any of my lovely readers hadn't realised!).

As I mentioned before, after making the plaited loaf on Saturday I had another go on Sunday, this time using the actual recipe from Paul Hollywood and instructions for four and five plaited loaves (or large rolls, as I decided to go with).  The plaiting turned out well and was a lot easier, but you know what - I didn't like the taste of the bread nearly as much as the recipe I use normally.  Basically, it is too salty, way too salty.  I've been cutting down gradually on the amount of salt that I use so the impact was perhaps all the greater because of that, but even so, 10g of salt is a lot!!
The web site where I got the plaiting instructions has some likely looking recipes but they are all in American and I cannot be having quantities like one package, a packed cup, etc . . . I think I'm too old!
I think what I'd love to do now is something like brioche or croissants so I feel some research coming on.

I've become a right gadabout this week - for me, that is.  Yesterday a friend came round for lunch, today another friend is coming round for coffee, then Alex is round to stay the night, tomorrow he stays until late morning, Thursday I'm out to the Hare `with Julie and Linda, Friday . . . oh, you get the message.  Suffice it to say I'm doing something organised every single day!

I was reading the new Which? last week where it reviews kettles and thinking smugly how well my kettle is lasting.  It's been going for years and years.  I should have known better.  Yesterday when I turned it on, the light that lights up the water level bit started flashing, then went off.  Today it did the same thing although later on yesterday it was working fine.  Now, the kettle is still working fine, the on/off light works but I'm starting to wonder if it is getting to the end of its natural life.  I guess I will see, won't I?  There's always something!

I'm off for my second coffee of the day!  Have a great day yourself.

Monday, 29 October 2012

Monday morning

Every morning, as I stagger down stairs still half asleep, I always stop at the 'landing' window to open in and peep out onto whatever the weather has done with my little world.  It isn't really a landing window, it's halfway up (or down) the stairs and for some reason, today it reminded me of an AA Milne poem which went something like this:

Halfway up the stairs is a stair where I sit
There isn't any other stair quite like it
It isn't at the bottom and it isn't at the top
But it is the stair where I always stop.

I bet half of that is wrong.  I shall have to Google it now, of course. (goes off to Google)
I was right - half of it is wrong.  Here is the proper version:

Halfway down the stairs
is a stair
where I sit.
There isn't any
other stair
quite like
I'm not at the bottom,
I'm not at the top;
so this is the stair
I always

Lovely, isn't it?  And such a great way of organising the lines so that it is just like a child laboriously climbing down the stairs and stopping right in the middle.  So I was sort of close . . . sort of.  And the results of my investigation - warmer than yesterday, no frost, no rain - yet.

After that bit of culture I am very happy to report that the two potato topped pies were lovely.  The mash was great tasting and great textured and I suspect instant is in its way out now.  I made enough for four or five and there was none left.  The best sort of statement!
And after the main course there were cupcakes.  Birthday cupcakes, seeing as it was Beth's birthday on Friday.  Special cupcakes made by JustJules Cakes.  I've mentioned Julia's business before - if you live local, Google for her web site - she is a genius!

I discovered a blog yesterday.  I think many of us will have heard of the 'Mom' (sorry) who went on strike.  I rather enjoyed reading her funny and perceptive comments but couldn't help thinking that I missed an opportunity when my two were young.  I've never been too fond of housework so 'striking' was a regular occurence for me and mine.  Such a shame blogging hadn't been invented (I think) or maybe I could have made a fortune!!

I'm afraid I slept most of yesterday afternoon away.  Tiredness is never that far away at the moment and it's all too easy to give way to it - after all, there's not a lot stopping me!  I did intend to give downstairs a little bit of a tidy up as I have a friend round for lunch, but snoozing seemed the more pleasurable option.  Ho hum.
With this lunch in mind, I made a batch of biscotti - cranberry and almond biscotti and they are rather tasty.  They'd be even nicer with some white chocolate zig-zagged actoss, but they won't get that today!  I've put together what I hope will be a nice enough lunch - home made rolls, cold meat, cheese and chutney, followed by coffee and biscotti!

And now I'd better start tidying up a bit.

Sunday, 28 October 2012


Autumn colours.  A neighbour's wall was covered with these glorious leaves.  No longer though - the strong winds have seen to that!

Welcome to GMT!  The clocks going back meant that I didn't sleep in.  Waking just before five would have translated into just before six yesterday and that's late for me to wake.  The holiday must be biting!  And yes, I know that to any sensible person, it's still ridiculously early but there you go!

My no-work day turned out surprisingly busy but it was all productive and jolly good fun.  My frolics with the potato ricer as mentioned yesterday, plus some creativity with some veg in the freezer, some canned mixed beans and a carton of chopped tomatoes ended in a most delicious looking 'gardeners pie' and for Alex, who likes his meat, I used three single portions of the Hairy Dieters filling (originally made for their skinny pie) to make a cottage pie.  I will have a bit of each, as is my right, being the cook!
Confession time - when I'm doing potatoes for this sort of thing where I want it totally smooth I use instant mash!  Shocking, I know, but I do and you know what?  It's not all that bad really.  So I am keen to find out how the real mash compares in terms of taste and texture.  I shall be most disappointed and surprised if the former isn't better, but the latter . . . well, we will see.

Also as described yesterday, I had great frolics with the plaited loaf which looks and tastes scrummy.  I'm having a friend round for lunch tomorrow and am wondering if I could do some individual ones with very thin strands of dough.  The nice thing about dough is that if it doesn't work you can always bash it all back together again and have another go, so if it doesn't go right there's no loss!

The onion gravy also worked out well although at first it tasted much too sweet.  However, after standing for a while it became more savoury so fingers crossed that it will be OK.  The recipe made loads so there will be some to freeze: I'm pleased about that because bisto gravy just doesn't wing it for me and making a proper gravy just for one, always assuming I have the right stock, is a bit of a nuisance.

After they've been tested properly (i.e. eaten) I will post a few recipes in case anyone is interested.

Wasn't it cold yesterday?  We did have some snow, I gather, but earlier than when I looked out and it didn't settle.  This was followed by driving sleet/rain in a wind that was bitter interspersed with glorious sunshine.  And now there's a frost.  I gather that it's going to warm up soon, but it's very early for this sort of weather and I do wonder what winter has in store for us this year.

I notice that my visitor counter is nearly up to the next thousand.  That makes a lot of visitors, some very regular, some who catch up now and again and some, I am sure, who arrive here via a Google search result, read incredulously and pass on quickly!  I am very grateful to all you lovely readers who stick with this rambly, inconsequential, meandering effort.  May I encourage more of you to leave a comment now and again, please?  I love reading your comments, they put a smile on my face, and I do my best to respond to each one.

Saturday, 27 October 2012

eight strand plaited loaf

Not as hard as I expected.  The trick is to re-number the strands each time you move one - so if strand 8 moves over 1, it becomes strand 1.  However, I didn't plait tightly enough.  Next time I will . . .

As dough:

After baking:

. . . and it tastes wonderful!


I now have a bowl of gorgeous buttery, cheesy mash.

I LOVE my potato ricer!


I got a shock when I opened iGoogle this morning.  The weather forecast thingy said it was snowing in Chelmsford.  Well, I don't know which bit of Chelmsford it is thinking of, but I rushed excitedly to the window and opened it, to be greeted by a rush of extremely cold air but no snow.  No hopping out to the shed in my slippers and nightie this morning, that's for sure!  Shame about no snow though!

Well, it's 6:44 am and I'm not rushing to finish anything, I'm not thinking that I must have my bath soon or I'll be running late, I'm not checking my planning in case there's anything I have forgotten.  I'm sitting here, idly pondering over what I can do today that doesn't involve work.  I stayed late at school yesterday to get the new display up for after half term (it looks really nice too), I am up to date with marking, etc, and the planning is virtually done.  Bliss!

I think I want to have a go at the eight strand plaited loaf that was shown on the Bake Off programme.  I will cheat, of course, and make the dough in the breadmaker.  It's the actual plaiting that fascinated me and once you've got the sequence sorted it's not actually too difficult - or is that famous last words!  We will see. 
Also I have to pick up Beth's birthday cupcakes and sort out a nice dinner for her.  I want it to involve use of my potato ricer so I guess it will be gardener's pie with a lovely cheesy mash topping - naughty but very nice.  Alex can have a savoury mince base.  I might set to and make a really tasty onion gravy too.
Having said no work, I do rather fancy trawling some sites for resources, etc.  It doesn't count because it's fun and I choose to do it for fun.  :-)

I have to do some tidying up, of course, but in my own time.  Today is going to be a lazy day!!!  So off I go to start off the dough!

There's still a few splashes of colour in the garden.

Friday, 26 October 2012

Friday (and Thursday)

Yesterday was a slow, sleepy, unfortunately busy day, leaving little time for frivolous necessities such as blog entries.  Sorry, gentle readers, for not managing to be here.

Today is the last day of the half term.  This 'extra' week has been a killer for us.  Adults and children are dropping like flies, vulnerable to colds and a tummy bug that seems to be doing the rounds.  When you're weary, you're more prone to bugses and that's what seems to be happening.  Mind you, I'd rather have the longest half term we have ever known (eight full weeks rather than the usual six or seven weeks) this side of the half term rather than the run up to Christmas.  It's just the way the weeks fall really, nobodies 'fault' as such.  Regardless of the impact on the adults in the school community, the children are utterly worn out too and need a break.  Thinking is slow, pace of work has dropped significantly and they are edgy and irritable with each other.  Thank goodness for book week!

Book week has been brilliant.  If I could, I'd post a few photos of them wearing their teddy bear headdresses, which are lovely, but I can't, of course.  They loved making them and loved wearing them and walking out to their parents with them on.  They have made up some great rhyming couplets although we were wise to make the whole week a minimal writing week, given the prevailing tiredness.  They loved making some Teddy Bear pairs cards and playing the game with a friend.  They have been very interested in the contents of the Big Blue Bear Book Box (it was amazing how many bear books I found in our book trolley) and they have sung Bear Songs with great gusto.

It was supposed to turn very cold overnight.  It doesn't seem to have done so, judging by how it felt when I popped out to the freezer a few minutes ago, but I guess the cold will land on us today.  Just my luck to be on playground duty this afternoon!  Today, of course, is SEN day and I have a pile of paperwork to work through.  So exciting!!!  And given that I used some of my coordinator time for SEN, I shall be catching up on some coordinator responsibilities too.  I'll be hitting half term at a run, I can see.

Yesterday a parcel arrived at school.  I always get my orders delivered to school now.  They don't mind and it saves having to turn out again to pick it up from a delivery office, always rather a drag.  I ordered a potato ricer!  I've fancied one for years now.  I love proper, creamy mash but my current masher really doesn't do any kind of job for potatoes.  It's great for mashing veg in a soup so you get a soft lumpy texture, but when I have mash I WANT mash, not soft lumps.  I will be testing it out tomorrow and if it does a proper job (fingers crossed) I might pipe out the results into rosettes to freeze (if I can find where I put my piping equipment!)  Then, on Sunday, I will produce a great, flavoursome gardeners pie and cottage pie for Sunday lunch.  And maybe some potato scones for the freezer.  Yum yum!

One more day!

Wednesday, 24 October 2012


Good morning again.  I'm in a bit of a hurry so this might be quick.  On the other hand, you know me . . .

I've had a busy morning.  I managed to get the new 'spider' planning done for next half term and I also knocked together some draft planning for next week - no, the week after next.  Next week is half term, of course.  Yes, it is PPA this morning, but not only is my student coming in for her first visit, but also the teacher who will be my Friday cover after half term, Carly, who is just finishing maternity leave, so I'm really not sure how much time we will have for planning, Andrea and I, and I really want it done before half term so that I have a clean week.  Also, it's a mix of the last two years' planning because usually the first week is about firework safety and this year it is almost over, done and dusted by the time half term is over.  It was confusing enough with one person doing it - more than one would be a right muddle, I think.  So now I am hoping Andrea doesn't mind me acting so arbitrarily and that I'm not in the doghouse!

We did have fun yesterday, making teddy bear headdresses.  As always, it took a darn sight longer to do than I predicted, so we will carry on with them this afternoon.  The ones who made them yesterday wore them home and the look on the parents' faces was well worth seeing.  It was 'aaaaahhhhhhh' all round!

Must go . . . don't want to be late!

Tuesday, 23 October 2012


Good morning, readers.  It is still somewhat damp and misty outside, maybe not as bad as yesterday which is good, but room for improvement all the same!  And I'm on playground duty morning and afternoon (groan).

Yesterday I had to pick Alex up from his new secondary school.  I say 'new' but he has been there for nearly eight weeks now so maybe 'new' is not the right term to use.  It was good to see how comfortable and relaxed he seems to be in his new environment.  I swear he's grown again since I saw him on Sunday though!!  These wartime rations seems to suit him no end.

Yesterday morning and all the available surfaces were cleared in preparation for the Invasion of the Bears.  And in they came in their hundreds - OK, a slight exaggeration, in their twenty five or so.  Plenty for a small classroom.  To be quite accurate, it was twenty four teddies and one rabbit who is an honorary teddy for the week.  We sang teddy songs, listened to teddy stories and made a simple teddy hand puppet.  A good start to the week.  Today we start what the week is really about which is poetry, including The Text, words that rhyme with 'bear' (not as simple as it sounds), a session with a poet and making a teddy bear ears crown (don't ask!).

It's going to be good!

Monday, 22 October 2012


. . . and what a damp, drizzly, misty morning it is too.  More like November than October although, to be fair, we're not so far off the eleventh month, are we?  I don't think it's all that cold but, when I opened the window to check, it felt raw.  The weather forecast is none too promising either.  Wet and gloomy until Friday and then turning considerably colder.  Well, that's no good.  If we're to have a snowy day, it needs to be in term time, not when half term starts!  I blame the weather men myself, they're just not what they used to be, are they?

Cobweb in the rain last night

After that bit of nonsense, on to a few recipes.

The lentil 'sausages' (which ended up as patties) were really most tasty, easy to make and frugal.  I finely chopped some red onion and put it in a pan with some lentils, some smoked paprika, marigold, pepper and enough water to cover and then simmered it until it was a thick puree.  It needed stirring regularly.  When it was done, I mixed it with some thick mashed potato and added a knob of butter.  It then went in the fridge, covered, to chill.  I turned the oven on to about 200C.  I formed the potato and lentil mash into patties, floured, milked and breadcrumbed each patty and placed it on an oiled baking sheet (I use that teflon lining stuff).  They cooked in the hot oven for about half an hour, turned once after about 20 mins.  They flattened, of course, which was a shame, but the edges went all crunchy and they were really tasty.  I made nine, had two myself and Beth and Alex accounted for the other seven.  I made a nice tomato sauce to go with them, enriched at the end with a dollop of philly light.  Mmmmmmmmm

The chocolate oat biscuits consisted of 1 ounce (an old recipe) of butter rubbed into 4 oz SR flour, mixed with 1 oz of sugar (or a little more), 45g oats, a pinch of salt and 3/4 oz cocoa powder.  As an extra, I added some orange oil but some grated orange and/or lemon zest would be nice.  Add enough milk to moisten and bring the mixture together - going in with your hands (as Delia so often said) works best here.  Break off walnut sized bits, roll and flatten on a non stick or oiled baking sheet.  Bake for about 15 mins at 190C.  When cooked, sprinkle over some castor sugar and cool on a wire rack.

I shall make both of these again.  There was nothing left which is always a good sign and both were very simple to make.  The first, failed lot of biscuits is now all crumbed and in the freezer and I found a nice looking recipe for toffee apple (not toffee apples on sticks) which will, I think, go nicely with the crumbs as a crumble topping.  The 'toffee' bit is sugar, golden syrup and butter so rather naughty, but OK for a treat.  I might make it next weekend to celebrate a birthday!

I need to work up some energy.  The children should all be bringing their teddy bears into school for the week for Bear Week, together with their entry for the Bear Catalogue.  I'm looking forward to it, but must get to school early and clear some space for our visitors.  All twenty nine of them . . .

Sunday, 21 October 2012

Well . . .

. . . lunch worked.  Beth and Alex liked it all, took the remaining biscuits home and, I gather, ate them pretty pronto.
If you haven't taken a trip over to her blog, better do so quickly as she'll be stopping the wartime eating next weekend.  Follow this link:
and scroll down to the entry entitled 'lunch' to see the cookies and the rest of today's lunch.

Hope you like the new look - I fancied a change and took the photos of the cyclamen and the chive flower this afternoon.  Despite the rain and the gloom, the colours came out rather well so I thought I would use them.

Bit of a disaster

Well, I tried the chocolate oat cakes (really biscuits). 
They weren't so easy to make as I expected, the mixture wouldn't come together and I had to add more milk that I expected.
When they came out and had cooled I tasted one and, oh dear, not nice.  Bitter.  So I went back to the recipe and realised that I'd misread and added rather more cocoa powder that I should have done.   Doh!

So I had another go, because I felt that it had potential.  this time i made half quantities (just in case) and also I went very non-ration and added some orange oil (choc'n'orange - yum).  Much easier to handle and this time rather nice.  Not too sweet but not bitter either and nice and crunchy.  So a success.

However, I had 25 unsuccessful cookies to deal with and I had an idea.  The recipe is rather similar to a crumble topping but with milk added.  So I zizzed all the cookies back down to a rough powder and have frozen it in small portions for crumble topping.  I can add extra sugar to counterbalance the bitterness, if  I want to, and I think it will work well.  if not, I'm no worse off, am I?  It might also go nicely in a yogurt or as an an ice cream topping.

We will see!


Good morning everyone.  I've taken a quick peek out of the front door and brrrrrrrrr, it doesn't half feel chilly.  I'm glad and thankful, as always, for my lovely little house with its efficient double glazing and central heating.  It may not be all that cold in real terms, but even so . . . brrrrrrrr.

I had a lovely meal out yesterday at our local Cafe Rouge.  For once, low(er) calorie and inclination combined and I had a tagine de poulet.  I was impressed to see that Cafe Rouge now flags up the dishes that are under 600 calories and this was one of them.  I'd have had it anyway and it was gorgeous.  I fear the healthy eating didn't survive the appearance of the dessert menu where I had a trio of little deliciousnesses.  The food was great and the atmosphere was good but, oh, my, they are slow with the service.  For a cafe that advertises quick meals on their menu, they take for ever and a day!  Not that it mattered for us, we  had all afternoon, but I did have to go and move the car and get another ticket (fortunately there were plenty of slots by then), as did Anna.  We'll know better next time.  And there will be a next time because the final bill (which I didn't pick up) was very reasonable, given what we all had.  Alex, in particular, had a whale of a time with his choices!  Thank you very much, Dave, for a lovely lunch with all my favourite people.

So - back to 'healthy' eating again.  This last week has been a disaster really but one week does not signal the loss of the whole war, thank goodness.  I'm back on track, having planned the menu for the week with plenty of ready meals (home cooked) from the freezer, so there's no excuses.

Today, because Beth and Alex are over and because they are on the last lap of their month on wartime rations, I am making 'lentil sausages', a recipe which I found on a wartime recipe blog, with a tomato sauce or maybe some cranberry sauce I have left over from a few weeks ago (or probably both!) and a selection of veg, probably some red cabbage from the freezer, some broad beans and some carrots.  No potato as there's potato in the sausages.  I might shape them into patties rather than sausages as they might hold their shape better that way, fingers crossed.   And then I'm making some chocolate oat cakes which is supposed to be American wartime rations - I'm not so sure about British, but I can claim that I've saved my fat rations (which is absolutely true, I've been eating very little butter recently) and the chocolate is cocoa.  Hopefully Alex will appreciate them - I think he has suffered greatly over the past three weeks, poor, hollow legged, sweet-toothed teenager that he is!

I'm wondering if I ought to follow Beth's example and have a go at wartime frugality.  It would have to be in holiday time because it takes a good deal of thought and preparation, but maybe for a week over the spring (so called) half term and then over Easter.  I will discuss it with her.

Well, I was up stupidly early this morning and am now flaking out, so I'm going up to see if I can snatch some more sleep.  Have a good Sunday!

Meet a friend - handsome chap, isn't he?  No, not mine - I'm not a pet-person!

Saturday, 20 October 2012


Phew - back again.  Thank you to everyone who stuck with me and continued to come in, despite the empty room!

What happened was that I tried to upgrade my anti virus and something went wonky.  I have no idea what as I am a technoidiot, but I seemed to be left with only a partially working anti-virus - not a very comfortable thought.  I contacted my lovely ICT expert who gave me some advice, I followed it and it all seems to be working fine now.  It's doing its 'first time optimisation scan' as I type.

It's been a long week.  Two consultation evenings for a start.  Both went well, everyone seemed pleased and sees progress, and I had some very helpful and informative chats. 

We had a visitor into Y1 on Thursday - a less than two month old baby and his lovely mum.  The children were entranced, asked loads of really good questions and then made some super posters about how to care for a baby.  Now we have a super whizz photocopier that does colour, I am going to enlarge some of the posters to A3 size for a display.

Yesterday afternoon was a very important meeting which I chaired, supported by the other SENCo.  It went well, what we wanted was agreed and we were very pleased with the outcomes.  There was a bit more paperwork afterwards, but I got that done and posted off, so it's a bit weight off my mind.

Next week feels odd.  Every other school year I have ever taught has seen this weekend as the start of half term and in many parts of the country it is half term.  However, we have another week before the break - rather a shame really, because the children are very tired now, everyone is noticing that their classes are slow and weary.  But another week we have and it's going to be Book Week with a focus on poetry - yay!!  Andrea and I had a lovely time last PPA, devising a week of  activities around the rhyming story 'This is the bear'.  Foundation Stage is focusing on Nursery Rhymes and I know one of the junior year groups is doing the Charge of the Light Brigade.  We have a poet in school who will be taking each year group in turn for a session and then on Friday it is non uniform day and we will be dressing up as story or poem characters.  I think I will resort to my old favourite, the Old Woman who Lived in a Shoe.  Easy peasy!  Andrea and June are talking of getting teddy one piece pyjamas, but there's no way, absolutely NO WAY . . .

So that's my week.  One more and then it is half term.  And that's filling up rapidly - I'm going to have to be strict with myself or I won't actually get any kind of break.

And now I'd better go and start in on the kitchen which shows serious signs of neglect after such a busy week . . .

Thursday, 18 October 2012

Bloomin' computer

Sorry, readers, I'm now having PC problems.  I'm using my school laptop to make this entry.
Parents' evenings have gone well but I'm glad it is all over now - until next March anyway!  Now there's just one week and one day until half term.  Can't wait, I am so tired.

Fingers crossed I can sort out the PC problems though!

Tuesday, 16 October 2012


Very rushed this morning after a late night (poarents evening) and no time to prepare resources when I got home.  So this is just an in-and-out again.

I'll be back!

Monday, 15 October 2012

While I'm waiting . . .

. . . for the first parents to arrive.

I knew it would happen, I just knew. 

Remember me saying I couldn't find a big roasting dish so assumed it had gone for good, somehow, and ordered some new ones (yes, onessssss, not just one) from Lakeland?  They arrived today.  Lovely, heavy, quality roasting pans.  Fantastic . . .

Only problem - I found the old one yesterday afternoon!


Yesterday was an extremely productive and busy day.  I think sometimes that one needs a weekend to get over the weekend!
So, what did I do . . .

Well, I started off by making a shopping list.  I needed to go to Sainsbury's for a number of reasons, one of which was that Morrison's doesn't stock everything I want or need.  There are others, of course, as I said yesterday!

Then I sorted out my top cupboard - one of them, anyway - to make room for the bread flour because I'm fed up of seeing it lying about.  There was some pretty old stuff there: some was chucked and some was used.  There was a pack of not terribly out of sell by date chive and onion bread mix which I set to begin in the breadmaker with the idea of making individual rolls rather than a loaf.  I found a packet of split peas which DEFINITELY needed using up so I put them on to soak.  As this was good and early, I know that by about 11:30 they would be ready to use.  I prepared the ingredients for the meatballs in tomato sauce.  I then took the dough and made 13 rolls, using my muffin tin for 12 of them - it worked very well, too.

Then I pootled off to Sainsbury's and spent about three times as much as I had expected, partly because of extra needed stuff (like printer ink) and partly impulse clothes buying.  You see, I need another target 'skirt' as I can now get into the one that previously served that purpose.  What I got wasn't a skirt and it will be a few months before I can get into it, I suspect, but it does help to have something tangible to measure progress with rather than just numbers on the scales.

When I got back, after putting everything away and heating the oven, in went the rolls, on the hob went half the split peas with stock, finely chopped potato, onion, carrot and parsnip with some seasonings, and the other half just had water added and simmered away.  After that I made the meatballs and did the necessary, making four good, hearty portions for cold evenings.  And I used some rather more out of date bread flour in hopes and the breadmaker turned it into a good, well risen loaf, so no complaints!
The soup is gorgeous, pure, old fashioned comfort food, and will be even nicer with some crisply fried bacon bits or shreds of ham added.  The other split peas will make a useful addition to a casserole or similar, one roll got eaten (one has to taste, after all) and the others are now in the freezer with everything else. 

And then, finally, I sat down at the computer and get going with the mini-reports.  Many were already done, there were just a few things to tweak and now the ones I need for tomorrow are all printed out and organised into plastic pockets, in order, ready for this evening.

It's going to be a l-o-n-g day . . .

Sunday, 14 October 2012


I think one of the greatest of the many simple pleasures I am fortunate enough to enjoy in my life is waking up to the aroma of freshly baking bread.  Having a loaf in the oven while you are showing potential house purchasers around your home is old hat nowadays, but the truth remains that it is one of the most heart-warming, evocative smells in my world.  I'm breathing deeply and enjoying . . .
I love my Panasonic!

Today the loaf came out of the pan easily.  The other day (Friday) it was more trouble and, as I bagged the loaf and took it out to the freezer, I failed to notice that the paddle was still in the bottom of the loaf.  As a result, on Saturday morning I had to get said loaf out of the freezer again and thaw it so that I could dig out the paddle.  Fortunately, Beth came round and took it home with her together with three others for her rationing week ahead (loaf, not paddle).  I was a bit cheesed off by the paddle sticking so went onto Amazon (where else) to look up replacement parts and saw that Panasonic now do a non-stick paddle that has very good reviews, especially as regards to not sticking in the loaf .  So, with a couple of clicks, they were ordered and I got an email from the company supplying them yesterday evening to tell me they are on their way and should be with me tomorrow.  Now that's good service!

This rationing eating thing is obviously good for my grandson.  A month ago he was a couple of centimetres taller than Beth and I; now he towers over us both.  I remember that my son had a sudden growth spurt at more or less this age too.  Both Beth and I did our growing (growing up, anyway) good and early and by the time we started secondary school we were more or less the same height as we are now and have been all our adult lives.  For Alex, the growing up has been accompanied by a slimming down in that he's finally lost his little boy podge and he looks really good!  Fortunately, he's still nice and huggly, bless him!

Today is a school day.  I have to prepare for consultation evenings next week and have brought home all the necessary paperwork.  It's not hard, it won't take for ever, but it's got to be done.  In between that I will be popping to Sainsbury's.  Morrison's is very convenient but there are things it doesn't have.  It doesn't do the 'value' crumpets I like to buy (because they are smaller and thinner and therefore lower calorie) and it didn't have any maple syrup last time I looked which was a pain because I need some more.  Today I want to make the Hairy Dieters meatballs in a rich tomato sauce recipe and Sainsbury's has a much better selection of beef and pork minces.  The fact that Sainsbury's has good clothes and homeware departments has nothing to do with it, dear me no, who would ever think of such a thing, goodness me . . . etc.  Thinking about it, their new magazine should be out by now . . .

I have four bananas, very ripe with skins that are browning.  They're not going to last much longer so I'm going to have a go at doing what the Frugal Girl does and bunging them into the freezer whole, to use at a later date.  I have a good recipe for banana muffins but, as I made a batch of muffins yesterday, I don't need any more for now.  I don't want to waste the bananas though!  

Well, better get on with the reports.  Or maybe I will have breakfast first!  Secisions, decisions . . .

Don't spiders have wonderful markings?  I never realised before.  They may be the stuff of nightmares but they are 'fearfully and wonderfully made'
And my spider seems to have got his knitting in a tangle!

Saturday, 13 October 2012

Saturday morning

And it's finally the weekend!  After a very busy day yesterday I was vulnerable come the evening and had a mini-breakdown in the healthy eating (see other blog) but much more controlled than in the past.  And I'm back on track again now!

The three meetings were all very helpful: loads got done so they were well worth the time and effort.  I'm relieved, not because they were potentially any kind of problem, but because of how much was achieved.  It's quite a weight off my mind!

This morning I set to and finished off the home made baked beans.  Yesterday morning I put some cannellini beans in to soak and in the evening I boiled them until they were soft.  To be honest, I rather over cooked them, but never mind.
This morning I made a lovely, rich, tomato-ey sauce using the 'add and taste' method and then added the beans.  It's made eight single portions to enjoy with meat or on toast or a crumpet.  Scrummy!

Later on I am looking after Alex.  He likes my cooking, bless him, so I'm making a batch of muffins.  What he doesn't eat or take home, I will freeze for school lunches, etc.
Better go and get started then!

Sunset glow on the horizon.

Friday, 12 October 2012


The end of yet another week.  Two weeks until half term.  Not that anything is slowing down, of course.  Quite the opposite, we started at a run and it's just getting faster.  At least one is rarely bored - not in class anyway!

I'm looking forward to tomorrow.  DG (who I guess I can now call Alex, seeing as DD - Beth - has outed their names on her own blog - it's good, go and read it ) is coming round because Beth has a tutorial.  I'm looking forward to seeing him and I guess he is looking forward to - eating non-rations!!!  He's requested fish and chips so I will have the same, although my fish will be maybe a boil in the bag kind (which are not as nasty as they sound, in fact) and my chips will be carefully measured out.

Today is busy, busy, busy.  Three - yes, THREE - meetings.  One at another school, one in the head's office and one in the staffroom (I'm guessing it's there anyway, that being the quietest and most comfortable place).    Fortunately they are one after the other so I don't have to be in two places at the same time, two in the morning and one in the afternoon.

The weekend is also going to be somewhat busy, with parents evening reports to write, levelling to do and a fair bit of sorting out.  At least I am bang up to date with marking, filing, etc, so that's a great relief!

Last night I popped out to the freezer with a loaf and my eye was caught by a spider in a web, glistening with raindrops in the security lighting.  As they say, nothing ventured, nothing gained, so I popped back in to get the camera and had a go on the 'intelligent automatic' setting.  These are the best . . .

Add caption

A more tightly cropped version of the one above

Not as shiny as it really looked, but given that it was dark and I'm pretty ignorant with cameras, I'm pleased with these photos.

Thursday, 11 October 2012


. . . and when I came back from Danbury after my virtual visit yesterday morning, I came bearing turkeys.  Well, one turkey and one stuffed and rolled breast.  No, I didn't need the latter but they had ten pounds off anything extra that you ordered at the same time as the turkey and it will be very useful for a family gathering.  I ended up buying a 6k bird in the expectation that it will be a fair bit bigger than that - they always are.  I still remember with some horror how I ordered an 8k bird and when it came it was nearly 10k.  The birds had grown well that year and they were passing on the extra to their customers free.  After a not-so-minor panic I had to hack off the drumsticks before it would fit in the oven!!!  And we were all getting a bit fed up of turkey in the end!  You can have too much of a good thing.

And talking of fitting into the oven, I seem to have lost one of my good roasting tins.  I know I had two but on Sunday I could only find one which was a bit of a pain.  So over to Lakeland I went and got some more - it's ridiculous not having enough roasting tins.  Now I have - or will have when they arrive!  Good old Internet.

Keen eyed readers will notice that this is being written at stupid o'clock.  I'm wide awake, bright-eyed and bushy tailed and raring to go (and will suffer for it tonight) but I'm going with the flow in the hopes that I don't crash until I get home this evening.  There's so much to do and so little time - so here I am, writing my blog!!!  Go figure, as the saying goes.

Right, better go and get started.  Next week's planning, reports for parents evenings, Christmas show scrips and sundry other bits and bobs . . . here I come!

And another unconnected photo from Hyde Hall!  Loved the vegetable garden!

Wednesday, 10 October 2012


It feels wintry.  When I came downstairs I headed straight for the thermostat, which was still on its night setting, of course, and turned it up to something more reasonable.  I'm now putting on slippers and dressing gown when I get out of bed, something I never do in the summer months, but this week it is becoming a necessity.  There's not a frost as far as I can tell, but it can't be far away now.

I bought a load of not-rubbish magazines yesterday.  They now have several Christmas based ones out and I can never resist them.  Rarely do I find anything that I want to make in preference to our traditional family food, but I
they are interesting, atmospheric and imaginative and I love that.  Also, there are recipes that can be used at other times, always useful - and the photography is interesting too.  I love the arrangements they set up.  Some are very clever.

Talking of Christmas (sorry, but it *is* October and it just has to happen), I had a pleasant time over the weekend with Mum, discussing Who Brings What.  Last year Mum made two Christmas puds, one for then and one for this year, but forgot to bring it over, so we pootled off to Morrisons and bought their best!  Jolly good it was too, extremely impressive.  So this year the pud is all ready and Mum is determined to remember it. 

The braised red cabbage and apple, made and frozen last year, has lasted wonderfully well in the freezer, so that's one thing I don't have to worry about.  I know what they say about length of time in the freezer, but we had some over the weekend and it was very good indeed.  I'm not wasting if I don't have to!

Morrisons had some of their best streaky and chiplolatas on special so I get more than I needed for the Sunday roast and the Christmas pigs in blankets are now made and in the freezer.

And finally, I am just about to pop over to the Kelly site to order my turkey.  It's horrendously expensive, but their turkeys are just about the best in the world (only a very slight bias towards a local firm showing here) and while I can afford it, Christmas is the time to do so.  The big decision is how big a turkey should I order?  We will be two meat eaters down this year but everyone loves Boxing Day turkey, DG eats enough for five and folk like to take some slices away with them.  And there's always DD's cats!!!

Sorry to be so focused on the C word, but this year the school term goes on until the 21st so there's precious little time before the hordes descend and I have to be highly organised - or put Christmas back several days - and that ain't gonna happen, now is it?
So heigh ho, heigh ho, it's off to Danbury I go - virtually, anyway!

A totally irrelevant photo of nice, raindroppy leaves from Hyde Hall!

Tuesday, 9 October 2012


A pretty picture taken at Hyde Hall

Good morning, everyone. 

Weren't we lucky yesterday morning?  One could hardly say it was warm, but we were able to walk down to St Andrews for Harvest Festival and back again without getting damp.  The little service was delightful, the message simple, the singing lively and my littlies said they enjoyed it.

Bless them, after the walk in the morning they had swimming in the afternoon so by the end of the day they were shattered!  I'm sure they will come back full of life and energy this morning though, as they always do! 

It's just an ordinary day today, no 'specials'.  I'm looking forward to it!  I hope it's a good day for us all.

Monday, 8 October 2012


Good morning, everyone.  Wasn't it another lovely day yesterday? It was here, anyway, although not quite as lovely as Saturday as the sky clouded over and the sun decided to go and play somewhere else for a while.  It was still a gift though, given that recent weather has been a bit wet and miserable.

As mentioned earlier, we managed to break into my kitchen without doing any damage to the door or frame (phew) and discovered that the door mechanism has just jammed.  So we took off a few more 'tubular latches' (that's what the packet calls them) that were being a bit sticky and pootled off to B&Q to get some more.  Of course, when we got back, they didn't quite fit and I need to get someone to chip a little more wood from the side of the door, but never mind, no problems.  I just have three doors that won't close but each one has a separate lock that I can use if needs be (just as well in the case of the toilet door!).  I'd much rather that than a door that might suddenly jam!  I keep shuddering at the thought of the door jamming when I was on my own with something boiling merrily away on the hob!

It's been a lovely weekend and I'm sorry it's over.  Yesterday was quiet but pleasant, with DD and DG coming over for a roast dinner with most of the trimmings - I forgot the stuffing and I remembered at teatime that the onions, which I had popped into the microwave to soften before adding them to the roasting potatoes, were still in the microwave!  Never mind, I will pop them in the freezer for the next time I do a casserole or curry, it won't be wasted.

I haven't got a lot of food left over either.  Some turkey and accompanying veg which will do me well this evening and a titchy bit of lasagne and salad which is today's lunch.  Some sandwiches which are now well wrapped and in the freezer.  I had a few biscuits left over but they disappeared before bed time (not guilty!).  So, all in all, it has all gone very well on the catering front.

Just one booboo.  As I mentioned yesterday, DD has a blog about her  wartime eating (go and enjoy - it's brilliant!).  I had promised her a beany, vegetable-y mixture and I forgot.  The beany mix is still in the freezer and she had a mushroom bake thing.  I'm not sure the grapes we had with crackers and cheese were all that authentic either!  Sorry, DD, will try harder!However, she took home a pot of the red cabbage and apple, so that's good! 
She also took three loaves.  I have appointed myself as her baker this month.  I'm not sure how authentic a bread making machine is, but it's certainly home made, wholemeal and, though I say it myself, very delicious.  I've started making the loaves for next week now - one made and cooling, one in the machine set to finish when I get home from school this evening and one in my head for overnight.

And now the porridge is made so I'd better wander off and have my breakfast!

Hyde Hall on Saturday

Sunday, 7 October 2012

Me again - please go and read . . .

. . . my daughter's blog.

She and DG are doing a month of eating on rations, as folk did during the war.  I've just read my way from the beginning (she didn't tell me about it before) and I think it's great.  Funny, interesting, informative and just so readable.

Here's the link - please do take a trip over there.

I shall be posting links to it on a regular basis!  :0)


For all you lovely readers who are desperately worried about how on earth I am going to manage to do a roast dinner without a kitchen, we managed to break in!

Everything is smelling delicious as I type . .  panic over.

I didn't half miss my early morning caffeine boost though!


One of the many views of Hyde Hall gardens I will probably be boring you with over the next week or so!

Good morning, everyone.  It looks as if we might be getting another very pleasant day today.  After my dire predictions early yesterday morning the skies cleared and we had the most beautiful autumnal day.  Clear blue skies, then some puffy clouds, plenty of sun, warm in the sun but a bit colder in the shade and Hyde Hall was a delight, as it always is.

We arrived there in time for lunch.  They do the most delicious home made soups and yesterday it was leek and potato, one of our favourites.  After we had polished off our lunch we strolled up to the top, around the gardens and back down again for a nosey around the shop.  I hadn't intended to buy anything but found 'The Jolly Christmas Postman' which I bought to share with my class.

Then it was home, James, for a cuppa and some tealoaf (or, in my case, an apple) before I got going on dinner.  It didn't, in fact, take very much trouble as I had already made the savoury mince and a cheese sauce is no hassle.  So I layered it all up and popped the lasagne in to cook slowly while I made a simple salad to go with it.  Some garlic bread finished off what proved to be a very acceptable dinner and I was lucky that there was enough lasagne left over for Monday lunch at school as both my guests had seconds!

After a very good night's sleep I came down this morning to an unpleasant surprise.  I can't get into the kitchen!  The door handle has jammed overnight, somehow, and I must wait until the 'handyman' of my guests wakes up and comes down to see if he can sort it or if we're in a bit of a fix.  As I result, I am absolutely dying for my usual mug of coffee, I want to get the preparations for the roast dinner started and I can't . . . I can't even set the table for breakfast.  Very annoying.  I have no idea why it's jammed, it has never shown signs of sticking before.

Ah well . . .

Saturday, 6 October 2012


Good morning weekend!  Yay.  I'm feeling nice and relaxed in the knowledge that the planning is done, the resources are more or less made, the menu for the weekend is all sorted (I have visitors) and the house is as clean as it's likely to get in term time!

Weather permitting, today my visitors plan to go to Hyde Hall.  It's pretty wet and cold out there right now but it might clear up.  I am umming and ahing as to whether to go with them - the cold has landed with an almighty thud, I have a bit of an upset tum and just wonder whether I would be more sensible to rest, given that work goes on and I really don't want to take any days off so close to consultation evenings.  We will see . . .

Yesterday was my performance management and I was thrilled to bits with what the head said.  I'll say no more except that I came home extremely happy!  Nice . . .

Friday, 5 October 2012


Another school week is nearly over.  Just today and today is my SEN day.  I haven't seen my class very much really - Monday was performance management in the afternoon, Tuesday was coordinator time, Wednesday was PPA, yesterday I was at a meeting of SENCOs at the local special school and college (where DG used to go) and today is SEN!  Next week will calm down somewhat, I think (hope).

It has been an exceedingly busy week.  I think I've now just about caught up with all the classroom stuff, but I did get behind and I hate that feeling of chasing my tail.  However, through it all I've managed to keep my table tidy!  Amazing stuff!!

Yesterday we were making fruit salad!  Now, I didn't deliberately plan for that to happen while I was out of school: I had forgotten that it was on my schedule until Wednesday evening.  I have to admit that I was secretly pleased that someone else was doing the preparation bit though (we disassembled and planned last week) so all I had to do in the afternoon was call the children up, help them to choose what they had planned and give them their evaluation sheet to complete afterwards.  It was fast and furious getting through everyone, but we did it!  So that's our first bit of organised technology for this year signed off! 

Next half term we're making shakers and that's been refined from last time.  We didn't manage to get it done last year.  We planned to, goodness me, yes, and started collecting plastic bottles which were going to act as a 'shell'.  Loads of plastic bottles came flooding in so we put them all in a black plastic bag.  Come the evening of the Christmas Fair, we pushed the bulging black bottle bag under a table for safety.  The next morning we came in to find it - gone.  Not a peep of it anywhere.  It turns out that some very hardworking and conscientious person had gone round tidying everything up after the Fair, including all the rubbish that had been put in plastic bags - yes, black plastic bags.  You can guess the rest!  And no, neither J or I felt in the least bit inclined to dive into our huge school rubbish bins to find our bottles!  So no shakers!  This year A and I are using plastic drinking cups which have the advantage of
a) taking up little space
b) being easy to get hold of and
c) easily replaceable
Common sense prevails!!  The environment suffers!

As a result of the fruit salad, I came home with shedloads of chopped up fruit that hadn't been eaten.  All very hygienically prepared and stored so I wasn't going to throw it away.  In went a few fruity bits and bobs I had left over and I've popped it into my - oh, I've forgotten its name - the thing that sucks all the air out - anyway I have it stored in those pots, so it should keep for several days in the fridge.  How about a mixed (very mixed) fruit salad crumble on Sunday after the roast turkey?  Sounds tasty!

Better go.  I have a fair bit of stuff to do before I can get to school!  Thank goodness the weekend is a-coming!  And I've got another cold!

Thursday, 4 October 2012


Getting there . . .

Wednesday, 3 October 2012


A very quick one to say 'good morning' and that life is pretty hectic right now.  I'll be back to full throttle when things have calmed down!

Tuesday, 2 October 2012


Well, yesterday was a most interesting day.  It was the first day of performance management I and had two of my four to do.  New paperwork, now 'standard' statements - well, it took a short while to get collective heads around the whole thing but we got there and my other two today will get the benefit of that.  It is possibly simpler that the old way, with more page to the form but less to have to think about, providing each  mentoree comes with their information, having done their own homework!  Mine's on Friday!

As anticipated, I came home yesterday to be greeted by the aroma of a baking loaf, very welcome after a long, hard graft at school.  For the first time this term I didn't have time to go through my checklist before leaving and I know there are things that have not been done but I really couldn't do anything about that given that Steve was waiting to lock up.  I will be hammering on the front door at 7:30 this morning, that's for sure.  So the welcoming atmosphere as I walked in last night was wonderful.  One of the best aromas in the world.

So - today . . . the usual, plus painting still life (cough, cough) and performance management.  Jolly good fun all round!

Monday, 1 October 2012


A new day, a new week, a new month - but apart from that nothing changes.  It's raining!!  The way everything looks, it's been raining for some time too.  I drew aside the curtain to pop out to the freezer with a loaf and - er - didn't!  I will wait until I am dressed with shoes on my feet!  Will that mean wet playtimes, I wonder?

After my early start yesterday, when I didn't manage to get to sleep again until after dinner (midday dinner, that is), I was quite busy one way and another.  I made another loaf (well, 'made' is perhaps the wrong word, given that I use a breadmaker), a savoury vegetable crumble for lunch and a pork curry.

The vegetable crumble was delicious.  My hopes of have a wee bit left over to lunch today faded rapidly as DD amd DG got stuck in.  With it I did roasties (from a bag of some we froze earlier), roasted carrots and parsnips and some sweetcorn and there was not a scrap left!  I do have some topping left which is in the freezer - rather nice, it was, containing flour, butter, oats and finely grated not-parmesan!

DD took the two loaves with her and I popped another one on overnight, for next weekend when I have some visitors.  That's the one I want to take to the freezer when I'm suitably clad.  There's another one on now, timed to be finished just after I get home from school.  Seeing as there's now room in the freezer, I may as well get in some loaves for DD and for next weekend. 

As for the pork curry - when I was sorting out the freezer, I found some 'important' lumps of meat which will need dealing with soon.  One was a pork tenderloin so I concocted a curry for it, which turned out pretty tasty.  It's all frozen now but when I have some, if it's as good as I thought it was yesterday, I will post the recipe.  Here's a pohoto in lieu.