Monday, 31 October 2016


Good morning!  Nearly half past six and it is starting to get light but that won't last for long as the days are rapidly getting shorter and the nights longer.  Fair enough - we're almost into November now and I must get my 'No Trick or Treat' poster ready for my front door this evening.

I'm an old meanie and, quite apart from any other reservations, I really dislike anything that says, in effect, 'give us something or we'll do you some damage'.  It's nasty and, in an adult world, it would be considered illegal, so why do we encourage children to do it?  It may be wrapped up in a lot of fun and fancy dress but that's the underlying message.
See, I said I was an old meanie!

< jumps off soap box >

Yesterday turned out to be a much more productive day than the rest of last week put together.  It was a slow start but I don't mind that.  I'm allowed to start slowly after decades of rush.

I added some apple, some orange juice and zest and some sweet spices to the cranberries that I have simmered the day before and simmered it all again while I searched again for my jelly bag.  I KNOW I have two!  Unfortunately, I couldn't find it.  What I did find was a lot more jam jars in another box, so that's good and now I can make the chutney as well!

So . . . this . . .

. . . is what you do.  Looks very gory and Halloweenish, doesn't it?
I will leave it to drip for a bit longer and then make the jelly, maybe late afternoon.  Then I will push the rest of the gunk through my mouli and make a jam with the rest.  Can't waste all that good fruit!

I also prepped the King Edwards and par boiled them.  Here they are, drying out and cooling.  They're now tossed (well, rolled) in semolina and flour and have been frozen.  There's twenty four of them which will be enough and to spare for Christmas dinner for six and, probably, some left over for the next day.

After lunch (scrambled eggs), Beth and I did an audit of what we have for the School Fair - what's done, what needs finishing and what hasn't been started yet.  Then we sat in from of repeats of Bake Off and hand stitched until we had twenty finished tree decorations.

After that, as the wadding was out, I started dealing with my cushions which are as flat as pancakes.  They're not now - well, most of them aren't but there's three still to do!

Today I will do some more sewing and I shall go shopping.  Food shopping at Morrisons (I have vouchers for points which translate into more vouchers - slightly confusing but worth doing) so I am going to start getting in Christmas stuff.  I think today it will be the wherewithal to make the pigs in blankets and the sausage rolls, both of which will be frozen until needed, of course.  I'm very thankful that I am working to clear space in the freezer.

I also want to research a 'sweet' pastry recipe as I think it will be nicer than the ordinary kind for the mince pies.

So, you see, a much more lively day planned, a sure sign that energy is returning!

So - today's food.
B:  probably marmite on toast, apple
L:  home made soup, probably split pea (from the freezer, of course), orange
D:  sirlon steak (being a bit lavish here but it is from the freezer) with home made wedges and maybe some peas.  I might make a mushroom sauce with some soft cheese that needs using up too

As I've typed this, it has grown lighter and lighter and now I can see it's a chilly, misty morning which will probably brighten into a lovely bright autumnal day.  Fingers crossed!

Sunday, 30 October 2016


Welcome to winter time.  It's working - it's getting lighter and it is only around half past six!  I'm very glad some of my clocks reset themselves but I have a list of appliances I need to change.  Thermostat, boiler control, oven (always have to look that one up) and sundry clocks that are not radio controlled.

I know a lot of people don't, but I like the darker evenings.  It's a joy to shut out the dark and snuggle down safely and for an early bird like me, slightly brighter mornings work too.

Things are picking up now.  Yesterday I slept a lot which is always a good sign.  I slept in the morning, in the afternoon and again in the evening, fortunately not during Strictly.  Today may be the same!

In between sleeps, I made some bread and started off the cranberry jelly.  Annoyingly, I couldn't find my jelly bag (I have two so goodness knows where they are) so will have to concoct a sort of Professor Branestawm type thing over a bowl.  I'll fasten it to the handle of the boiler door so it won't get in the way and I won't have to move it.

Beth's due round today and I guess we will stitch together so I'd better set to and tidy up a bit.

Have a good day.

Saturday, 29 October 2016


Good morning!  It's a bit earlier (and will be even earlier tomorrow, I am sure) but I'm awake after the best night's sleep I've had for several days.  Although I'm still feeling 'weary', it's a lot better than it was so fingers crossed the curse - I mean cold - is lifting at last.

I know I made the right decision to stay at home and not inflict me and my bugs on my parents.

Yesterday was a quiet, sleepy day in between coughs, so there's not a lot to report.  Today I plan to catch up on mundane, everyday stuff that has been neglected this week and there's an underlying feeling of relief that I won't be back at work in two days' time.  I wonder when this mental/emotional adherence to the school calendar will go.

I might defrost some cranberries and start the Christmas spiced cranberry jelly.  For some inexplicable reason I have four bags of them in the freezer, three from Sainsbury's and one bag of fresh ones, bought in Morrisons last Christmas and never used.  So I have plenty enough to make jelly rather than jam or sauce.  I shall add apple to the mix for setting and some Christmas spices for added flavour.

The recipes I have read suggest leaving the fruit mixture to drip for a long time, up to 24 hours, so I can start this morning and finish tomorrow.  Most of them suggest adding alcohol, but I won't, not to this batch anyway.

One way or another, I am slowly working through the glut of stuff in the freezers which is a very satisfying experience.  I will definitely have enough room for all the Christmas stuff at this rate.  That being so and given that I have a bag of King Edwards in the fridge, I might also get the Christmas roasties prepped and frozen.

I've done this for a number of years now and it doesn't half save time over the Christmas meals.  This year I have some fine semolina too, so I will dredge the par-boiled spuds in a half and half of that and flour before open freezing and then bagging them.

So that's the plan for today, fingers crossed, and it only remains to report on food!
B:  bran flakes and an apple
L:  probably soup
D:  I fancy making a one egg Yorkshire and having savoury mince and veg inside it, using it as a plate.  If it shapes OK, that is.  Time alone will tell.

Friday, 28 October 2016


Apologies for the lateness.  Still not terribly well and I have cancelled a visit to my parents.  At nearly ninety, they could be considered pretty vulnerable to bugs of all sorts and I'm not going to inflict it on them.  It means, sadly, I will miss the Arcadians' show but it can't be helped.  Apart from not being in the right place anyway, the last thing anyone wants is someone coughing and sniffing their way through the performance.

So I am at home staying warm and resting, sleeping quite a lot and eating far too much.  Ho hum.

I'll be back!  :-)

Thursday, 27 October 2016


Morning, everyone.

Yesterday I did manage to get into town and splashed out on kettle, duvet and two pillows which came to a ridiculous amount but I'm glad I got them.  I wasn't feeling wonderful by the time I got home though.

It was a lovely evening yesterday, out for a meal at the Hare.

This morning I'm feeling a bit rough again (no, not alcohol) so am going to have a warm, restful day inside.  Hoping this is the last fling, so to speak.

I think I might use the time to plan out all my Christmas meals and other stuff I intend to make this year, source all the recipes and put them all together.

Have a great day

Wednesday, 26 October 2016


First things first


Have a lovely day, dearest daughter of mine!

It's half way through the week and things are picking up.  There's no doubt that having a good night's sleep does make a huge difference and, while things are still very coughy and totally disgusting (what cold isn't?), things are picking up.  Phew.

What did I do yesterday?  Well, I made a fish pie and have loads left over for today and one small one for the freezer.  That was about it really.  I sat and I rad and I slept on and off - it was a waste of a day really but do I feel guilty.  No, I don't!  So there!

Today there's quite a lot to do.  I have a stack of washing that really needs doing and I might very well pop into town and get that quilt and those pillows.  I have to change the sheets today so that would work out very well really.  I've also decided to get a new kettle as bits keep falling off the one I have and it doesn't always stay on until the water is boiling.  I'm not too disappointed - I've had it for many years now and it was very cheap to start with so it's more than earned its keep.

I shall be going out for dinner with Beth, her partner and Alex so I'm really looking forward to that very much.  It's to the Hare as usual - we love it there - so I need to take a look at the menu later and make a few decisions.

Today's food:
B:  bacon and egg (gotta use them up)
L:  fish pie (ditto)
D:  no idea yet.

Have a lovely day, everyone.

Tuesday, 25 October 2016


I'll get the whinge over first, shall I?  Still coughing, very sore (but muscle strain, not lungs) but it is 'looser' so I'm getting there.  Temperature went up a bit yesterday evening and it was a restless night but, despite that, I'm feeling a lot more with it today.

End of whinge!

Brrr - it is a very chilly morning this morning.  I've just popped out to the shed to get some things for meals today and was glad to get back indoors again.  I gather it might be sunny later.  I do hope so as yesterday was quite dull.

I got the tomatoes done and dusted, using up all the red ones (there's many more turning though).  Now I have four pots of chopped tomatoes in their own juice and four pots of passata in the freezer so there's less room than there was!  They will help to make delicious meals come the winter months.  The kitchen was a bit of a mess though!

I also had four very manky bananas that I got on yellow sticker several days ago so I made a batch of banana pancakes (recipe here) which are also in the freezer for easy breakfasts and desserts.

Clearing up the kitchen took a while especially as I had to keep stopping to cough but eventually it was all done.  I then decided to take a bit of a break so I did the ironing while sitting watching telly - the best way to do it, in my opinion - so now I have an empty ironing basket.  Oh, joy!
I also broke my rule and dried some washing in the tumble dryer - bad me.

Today I am still taking things very easy.  After the bad night, I guess I will flop at some point, so there's nothing that I HAVE to do today apart from meals.  I really hope things are good for tomorrow as it is Beth's birthday and we are supposed to be going out for a meal.  Fingers crossed again, eh.

Today I'm making a fish pie using lots of odds and ends from the freezer that should be used.  Some 'fish' (so not cod!!!), the dregs of a bag of peas and a bag of mushrooms, the rest of the bag of 'mashing vegetables' (which has been very useful so I intend to get another one), some sweet potato topping . . .
I shall make a bigger pie and have some for lunch tomorrow as well so that will make life easier.

Today's food
B:  banana pancakes with bacon and maybe a drizzle of maple syrup to spoil myself plus an apple
L:  home made soup and an orange
D:  fish pie, runner beans and some natural yogurt.

Monday, 24 October 2016


Good morning, gentle readers.  Welcome to a new week and if you have connection with the education scene, welcome to half term!  I have no idea what the weather is like not it stays dark for so much longer, but fingers crossed it is fine.

Yesterday wasn't nice but I'm feeling quite a bit better today.  The cold is 'breaking up' so lots of coughs and sneezes and snuffles but a clearer head and, fingers crossed, a normal temperature.

I haven't yet decided whether to pop into town early to get my new quilt.  I shall have my bath and wash my hair which badly needs it and then see how I feel.  It has to be early because my young teen is coming at eleven to do a bit of garden tidying for me and, as I cancelled him yesterday and know the cash will be useful for half term, I don't want to disappoint him today.

Flippin' tomatoes!  When they were on the plant, they took for ever to ripen.  Now they have all been picked and in a bowl for when I have the time to green tomato chutnify them, they're all turning red.  :-)  I'd have dealt with them ages ago but need to fight my way into the garage to find jars and lids.  I'm inclined towards ordering some jars from the jam jar company, I think.  It does make life easier and people tend to be very good at returning them to me.

I have, however, dealt with the giuliettas that have been ripening on the window ledge and I have some pots of lovely chopped tomatoes in their own juice with the hard core and the seeds removed (which I then pushed through my mouli to recover all the juice).  There's still a few on the plant but I don't think they will ripen outside now so will pick them and see if the window ledge does the necessary.

Dealing with tomatoes is such a squidgy, messy job but at least it isn't sticky!

And since I wrote the above, I have decided to not do an early morning town trip - I will wait until the coughing dies down.  I'm thankful that I am not a smoker or I hate to think how it would be.

Today's food:
B:  bran flakes and an apple
L:  home made tomato soup, an orange
D:  chicken and veg pasta bake, yogurt and fruit

And maybe, just maybe, as I am feeling a fair bit better, I will stick to it!  Fingers crossed, please, everyone.

Sunday, 23 October 2016


Croak, croak, splutter.  Yup, that's me this morning, bang in the middle of my cold and feeling absolutely disgusting.  I'm so glad I don't have to inflict it on anyone else by going out.

Yesterday was, obviously, a stay-indoors-and-feel-sorry-for-myself day.  I had intended to go into town but no way!

I did some stuff though - I made another not-minestrone soup and I also went all frugal and used some value plain flour to make six bread rolls.  I did this because someone had asked a question about using plain flour on Facebook so I did!

When I did Live Below The Line (both times), making bread with value flour was a real godsend.  Yesterday, those six rolls cost me just under 20p and they were delicious.  The texture isn't quite the same but they are good in their own way.
I'm very lucky as at the moment I have a source of good strong flour that costs less that value plain, so, even at the height of frugality, I could use strong flour, but it is a tip worth the knowing anyway.

For the soup, I simmered a whole lot of garden tomatoes in their own juices and zizzed them to a smoothness.  I then sauted some onion, carrot and potato, chopped, in a little oil, added the tomato juice, some sweet potato, some frozen peas and sweet corn with a chicken stock pot and some seasonings, garlic puree and mixed herbs and let the lot simmer until the vegetables were all soft.  Finally, I added some mixed pulses from the lot I soaked and cooked a few weeks ago - some I froze separately and some I mixed together.
It was absolutely gorgeous, a full meal with the pulses to give protein, loads of vegetables and, best of all, it made enough for three bowlsful.  The second portion I will have today and the third can go in the freezer for later on this week.  Delicious frugality!

After all that, I was zonked so decided to be kind to myself and rested and read for much of the rest of the day.

Today - well, I am not sure.  I could do nothing but will do some sewing, if I feel up to it.  I'm not going to push it though.  I don't have to get plans finished, marking done, resources found and adapted so I can take it easy.

If I do get into town tomorrow, I have a target.  My pillows and quilt are rather old and manky and I have promised myself some new ones.  When I strolled around our new John Lewis the other week, there were some lovely quilts, not cheap but so soft and cosy.  I looked around online but the trouble with that is that you cannot actually feel them so I think I will stick with what I found and liked.  I will look at their selection of pillows at the same time and I bet I will find what I like.

I'm quite pleased that, because this month has been a very frugal month with no unnecessary spending (so far!), even with the reduced amount I gave myself, I can afford this without going into savings or using some of November's money (which has now all arrived).  That feels good.

It's a bit weird with the money thing.  All my life I have had a salary that arrived in my account on or just before the 26th of each month (apart from Christmas when it arrived at the end of term, for some reason) so it was no great mental effort to think from the first to the first or each month with a sort of safety net, should something come in right at the end of the month.
Now I have three sources of income.  The teacher's pension arrives on the 23rd, the AVC arrives on the 12th and the state pension arrives every four weeks, just to confuse matters (however, it does mean that in one month a year I get two lots, just like the old family allowance!).
The only way my poor old, numerically challenged brain can cope with this is pretending that it is not there until the first of the following month, otherwise I'd never know where I was!
Maybe it sounds daft but it works for me and I feel totally in charge of it all, thank goodness, more so than when I was working when I really more or less just took it all for granted.

Goodness, I do seem to have waffled on, sorry.
Today's food:
B:  bacon and tomato on toast, apple
L:  That soup, although I may make a few mini-dumplings and cook them in the soup to turn it into a casserole thingy
D:  fish fingers, chips and fried tomatoes

Such a lot of tomatoes today but I still have loads from the garden!

Saturday, 22 October 2016


Good morning, everyone.  Apologies for not appearing yesterday.  A combination of busy-ness and not-feeling-wonderful got in the way.  I didn't sleep all that well on Thursday night which didn't help!

I did get some stuff done yesterday.  As we had arranged, Beth and I went to 'And Sew On', specifically to look for fabric for a commission but also just to look.  Beth drove, for which I was duly grateful and we found the fabric she needed plus a bit more.

As we have several owls on order, today I will be quilting the fronts, I think.  That's the biggie.  As well as the ones we are making for others, we want to make two with Christmas fabric, for the school Christmas Fair raffle.  I've sorted out the materials from what we have in stock and now just need to get going!

Colds are rotten, aren't they?  Hopefully this will be the first and last of this winter and I am grateful that it is a cold, just a cold, not anything worse.

This week's been a bit of a disaster on the food front and I MUST get back in control.  So, today's food and fingers crossed . . .
B:  bacon and tomatoes
L:  bits and bobs soup (from stuff that needs using up in the fridge)
D:  Roasted chicken leg portion, sweet potato wedges, runner beans, yogurt and stewed apple

Thursday, 20 October 2016


This week has turned out to be such a busy week!  Monday was supposed to be a more restful day (despite certain commitments) but I ended up teaching all day (must remember to get the claim form into the office this morning).  Tuesday is busy anyway.  Yesterday I was sorting out the mess I call home in the morning and then out for lunch before tuition.  Today I am back in school all day!

No, not teaching this time.  The morning is a governor's visit and the afternoon is granny reading.  Then it's more tuition!  Yay!

OK, I admit, 'busy' doesn't mean the same as it did two years ago, thank goodness, and I am certainly not complaining, but a day's rest would have been lovely as the slightly 'urgh' feeling from earlier in the week/last weekend has thoroughly landed as the first cold of the season.  This is where I am so glad of stuff to quell the aches!

This morning should be good though.  It is Y5 Greek morning and they all bring in some Greek food to try.  I enjoyed it last year and I will enjoy it this year too.

Back to yesterday.  The Hare was as good as it always is and we chatted and laughed and it was all lovely.  The three of us have all worked together - J was head for a while and L was my SEN supply cover - so we go back a long way and had plenty to chat about.
I chose the nachos (mini plate) and brought half of it home for dinner.  I'm glad I went for the mini plate version:  I hate to think how big the normal portion would have been!

Today's food:
B:  yogurt and fruit
L:  nothing as I will have pigged myself on Greek food all morning
D:  steak pie with veg, orange

Have a great day.

Wednesday, 19 October 2016


Good morning.  I went to bed really early yesterday so, of course, I woke up extremely early too.  Ho hum.  Never mind: I do have quite a lot to do this morning so maybe it is just as well.

Yesterday was an OK day.  Nothing exciting but nothing terribly bad either.  Life seems just a little grey at the moment but I'm out for lunch with some friends so, hopefully, it will brighten up.

It's the semi-final of Bake-Off this evening which should be good.  Just before that it is the Great British Menu which I do rather enjoy, even though the chefs say exactly the same thing every programme.  There seems to be a particularly good one this week who has got full marks for the starter and the fish courses.  It's the main today so I wonder . . .

Today's food:
B:  bran flakes, fruit
L:  out at the Hare
D:  probably soup or maybe scrambled eggs.

Tuesday, 18 October 2016


I'm zonked!
One day teaching and it's taken it all out of me!  What a feeble thing I have become over the last six months or so!

I had a lovely day though.  I know that class, having worked with them last year in Foundation Stage and they know me, which does make it all a lot easier.

All in all, a good day.

Today I am back in school, of course, but as a granny helper.  Very different!
Then, this afternoon, there's housework as the place is a bit of a tip.

Today's food:
B: roll and butter
L:  home made soup and an apple
D:  gardener's pie and veg, yogurt and fruit

Short and sweet today!

Monday, 17 October 2016


Well, this is just like the olden days - up early with planning on the desk in front of me.  I'm feeling a bit nervous too but slept really well.

Yesterday was a lazy, peaceful day: today will be totally different!

Better get sorted!

Today's food:
B:  bran flakes, apple
L:  home made broccoli soup; oranges
D:  chick peas in a tomato and veg sauce with a potato topping; fruit yogurt
S:  choccy drink

Back tomorrow!

Saturday, 15 October 2016


Good morning, gentle readers.  It's nice waking up and getting up in the darkness.  Safe and cosy, although I probably won't say that so readily when the colder weather arrives until the heating has properly clicked in.

The weather forecast is a bit of a mixed bag for today: rain, cloud, sun . . .

When Sim came to do his bit of gardening yesterday, I set him to harvesting the Montello tomatoes as, although there were still plenty of fruit, the plants themselves were in a sorry state.  He did so and look what I have to deal with.

Some will ripen, of course.  I have sorted them and already some in the 'green' bowl are not so green any more, but ho! for green tomato chutney!  I am short of jars so need to go searching in the garage.
Despite an uncertain beginning and a late start to ripening, these Montellos have been wonderful and I'm hoping to grow some again next year - two plants will be more than enough and I will have space up the fence beside the tayberry to train them.

The tayberry itself has definitely survived its difficult beginning and I have two definite stems that will bear fruit next year plus one that hasn't grown much but might next year.  It's a good start anyway.

To go with the sausages yesterday evening, I made, in Thermione II, a chunky sauce with onion, red pepper, mushroom, garlic, tomato puree and a couple of the giulietta tomatoes with some veg stock paste and some balsamic vinegar.  It was jolly tasty and there's some left over so I have added it to the left-over runner beans, will thaw out some pulses, probably chick peas, and, Bob's your uncle, there's my dinner!  I might cook some pasta, I might defrost some rice or I might have it just as it is with some fresh bread.
I suspect there's enough for two there, especially after adding the chickpeas, so I can ring the changes tomorrow!

I didn't get started with the yellow room yesterday but I will today, once Alex has gone home.  I really want to get it done in geed time.  The other thing I want to do, quite apart from the usual bread making, is get one of the chutneys made.  I have two lots to make, a spicy apple and a green tomato and, as it's a fairly long process, will need to start whichever one I do first this morning rather than leaving it until after lunch.

Last Tuesday, a friend gave me a bag of 'heritage' type tomatoes (in other words, a bit different looking).  When she and her other half were in Italy, they had some wonderful tomatoes as part of a meal and they saved some of the seeds, growing them this year.  It was highly successful and the fruit was true to type.  They are a truly delicious 'black' plum tomato so I have done the same thing - taken some seeds for next spring.  I looked up what you have to do as I vaguely remember it was not as simple as just taking the seeds out and now I have a jar with some seeds and water, covered with cling film with holes punched in, sitting in a warm place out of direct sunlight.
Fingers crossed!

Today's meals:
B:  bran flakes, apple
L:  ham and veg soup, pear
D:  veg, chick pea and tomato - er - thingy, maybe with rice or pasta, fruit yogurt


Good morning, gentle readers, and welcome to half way through October!  It looks a bit dull out there, but not wet, so fingers crossed!  After all, I have sheets to wash (and dry).

I had a lie in this morning.  I didn't wake until nearly seven and, by the time I got out of bed, it was past seven.  I feel great for it too.  Now that the supply work has just about dried up, there's really no need to be up early, it's just my silly metabolism (or whatever) that still wakes me between four and five each day.

Having said that, I have a day's work on Monday which I am very much looking forward to.  I know the class and I know the work.

Yesterday morning I got the delayed work scrutiny done.  It was a delight to be looking at Y1 work again.  Y1 has always been my favourite year and I have been very fortunate to spend so much of my working life with they group, firstly as 'middle infants' and then as year 1 with just the occasional wander off into foundation stage, year 4 and, for my last year, year 2.  I've typed up my findings and just have to do my report of the visit on the governor's form but I will combine that with my attendance at the Greek Feast morning.  No point using two forms when one will do, is there?

Last year, I just turned up at the feast.  This year, seeing as it's Greek, I shall come bearing gifts, specifically a Greek honey cake.  I have a recipe, although I will need to leave out the walnuts as the school, like most schools now, is a nut-free zone.  Apart from that, I have all the other ingredients anyway!

In the evening, Alex turned up and was pleased when I presented him with his own front door key.  It's about time: he is adult and it will make it easier for him to come and go as he likes.  Beth and Dave have keys so Al should too.

I enjoyed the evening's telly.  Three funny shows one after the other.  Would I Lie to You, Have I Got News For You and Bake Off: an Extra Slice!  It gets better next week because onto them I will add the new series of Q I.
Maybe I slept so well because I chuckled my way through much of the evening - who knows?

Today is a homey sort of day.  Alex will probably be going back home to have a cook in.  There are loads of potatoes from the allotment and he wants to create stuff in the kitchen.  As for me, my next tidy up project is the yellow room which is the small bedroom over the stairs.  You see, it tends to be the dumping ground but every Christmas all the rubbish has to be dumped in my room because it is needed for my brother.  This year I want to dump the rubbish in the bin rather than in my bedroom where it tends to stay until I dump it back in the yellow room again.  Daft, isn't it - what a waste of time over the years!

As is typical in these rooms, there is a big cupboard over the stair head and that is crammed with stuff that hasn't emerged for decades - really, decades - so most of that is for the chop one way or another!  Then, when the junk is sorted, I can set to and sort out my books.  I have far too many (if that is possible) and many I will never read again.  Also, some are in a disgusting state!

Once all that is done, it will really easy my work load just before Christmas.

So you can see why it's the next project.  Once I have done that it is just the cupboard under the stairs and then, for the first time ever, the whole house will be in some sort of good order!  That will be amazing!

I shall start that today and carry it over into tomorrow and it should all be done.

Today's food:
I'm not feeling all that hungry so I might combine breakfast and lunch.
Br:  oat bran galette, yogurt and fruit; apple and pear
D:  sausages, chips and veg (I am feeding Alex too); strawberry yogurt ice cream
S:  choccy drink.

Friday, 14 October 2016


Good morning, gentle readers.  Friday comes round again rather too quickly nowadays for my liking.  The weeks are flying past and there's only around ten weeks until Christmas.  I'm glad I have started the organising part as I prefer to get all that side of things done early rather than late, just as I prefer to get the tree up late rather than early!

Yesterday was good,  A pleasant swim with Beth, home to go over the tuition planning and do some housework and then off to school to read with Y2 children.  Tuition was good and I'm really getting into the swing of it all now.

I had a mini-panic yesterday.  Marmite!  How can I live without marmite?  I was brought up as a marmite baby and it's one of my comfort foods - marmite on hot, buttered toast or in a meaty gravy.  Nothing can beat it.  Yesterday I popped into Morrison's and, although all the big jars had gone, there were still some small ones so, in a moment of madness, I grabbed enough to see me through the rest of this decade and probably into the next, given that one never needs very much at a time.  I took them to the checkout and had a good chuckle with the checkout lady.  Everyone was buying marmite yesterday, it seems.

Today I am off into school to do the postponed work scrutiny and then off to Sainsburys.  There's two reasons for that.  The first is that Alex is coming to stay over two nights and, while I have loads of food in the freezer, I don't have anything in the way of coke, fruit juice, etc.  The second is that I am hoping to get Beth's birthday present there!  She knows, so I can write it here.

After that I have a bed to make up and then I can rest.  I think I'm going down with a cold: a bit of a sort throat and a few aches are niggling in the background so I suspect a rest will be just the ticket, probably snuggled under my cosy owl fleece.  Bliss for a Friday afternoon!

So - today's food:
B:  2 boiled eggs
L: home made tomato soup
D:  pizza with coleslaw and salad
There will also be snacks such as sausage rolls, crunchy things and sweet things but I will try to be good!

Have a lovely day!

Thursday, 13 October 2016


In a comment yesterday, Allycoll (a new reader) asked for a bit of a potted history to show how names and events all fit together.
So here we go!

My name is Joy and I am now retired but for most of my adult life I have been a primary teacher.  I have two 'children', Beth and Dave, both independent adults now and I have one grandson, Alex.  He's very bright with special abilities in maths and sciences - which he certainly doesn't get from me!

I began this blog when I was still teaching, hence the title, and am just starting my second year of retirement.  Last year I still taught quite a lot so had a gradual weaning away from something that was terribly hard to lay down, but now I'm enjoying a different life.  However, I still have strong contacts with my school and am now on the governing body.  It's a good way of giving back to a school that has given me so much for so long.

KittyStitches is a little  - well, a sort of thing that Beth and I do.  We both love crafting and we make things for people, sometimes on commission and sometimes for fairs.

I also love homey stuff and appreciate the time to indulge myself now.  Baking, cooking, etc, plus all the crafting all combine to keep me out of trouble.  I'm now totally on top of the washing and ironing and the clothes even get put away!!!
I also do a bit of tuition and will probably do more as the opportunities present themselves.

So that's me!

Yesterday was a funny old day, weather wise.  One minute it was bright and sunny and the next it was chucking it down with rain.  Looks like it's been raining overnight too so it's 'wait and see' for today.  I suspect the tumble dryer will have to creak into action because I have tuition later on and don't want my wee smalls on display!

I was supposed to go into school for a bit of governor stuff but in the end that didn't happen so will happen on Friday instead.  Instead I did a fair bit of clearing up and tidying so downstairs looks reasonably presentable as long as you don't look over at the sewing table!

Today I'm in school again p.m. to granny help.  I'm loving this granny helping - all the fun and none of the hard work.  I usually do some reading with individual children and it's lovely.

I have Alex staying over two nights for the weekend so I am using my new food 'audit' lists to keep his tum satisfied.  Teens do love their food, don't they, and, fortunately, I have plenty of stuff he can help me with by eating it up!  Three cheers!

Today's food:
B:  scrambled egg on toast, apple
L:  soup; pear
D:  turkey curry, rice; yogurt and plums

Have a great day!

Wednesday, 12 October 2016


Good morning, gentle readers, it is nice to be back again.  I hate it when technological problems arise as I never know what to do.  After waiting for  over a day for the connection to come back up, I (with Beth's help for hearing) phoned Them and it was sorted within about ten minutes.  I do think it is clever the way they manage things like that from a distance!

Anyway, I am back, so welcome to a rainy Wednesday morning, over a third of the way through October.  A THIRD!!!!!!!   Scary.   It's a shame about the rain as the last few days have been gorgeous and I have a machine load of whites to dry, but it could be worse, I guess - it could be snow!

I've been pottering along, getting stuff done as and when and generally enjoying my life.  Without an internet connection, I set to and managed to audit the contents of my freezers as it's a while since the last one.  I was glad that there was hardly anything to have to throw out but rather embarrassed at how much is in there.  However, it is now all written down, organised according to where to find it, and it's rather nice to know that I won't have to spend all that much on food for a very long time to come.

I've also been sewing and have finished one of the owl orders.  I don't think there's a chance in a million that the recipient will read this blog but, even so, I won't post a picture until I know it has arrived.  This is the owl for which I used a quilted panel from my first ever efforts at quilting which was such a dismal failure!

The garden is still producing runner beans but the tomatoes are looking very sorry for themselves and will probably come out this weekend after I've salvaged all the green ones, weather permitting.  I must get down to making my chutney - I have the apples and now I have the green tomatoes too, or I will have.

Today is tuition day but before then I am wearing my governor's hat again, this time to help with some work scrutiny.  I'm quite looking forward to that.

And today's food:
B:  oat bran galette with spiced plums and yogurt, apple
L:  broccoli soup, pear
D:  fish fingers, mini new pots, corn on the cob, runner beans; yogurt and fruit

Have a great day, whatever the weather.

Tuesday, 11 October 2016


Really sorry for the silence.  I have had Internet connection problems.  Fingers crossed it's all sorted now!

Sunday, 9 October 2016


Good morning and welcome to a fairly chilly early Sunday.  It looks to be dry out there from the little I can see, and BBC weather tells me it should remain dry but not particularly warm.  Well, it's October, so fair enough!

I did go into town yesterday, despite the drizzle, and stayed out for three and a half hours - that's a very long time for me.  Mind you, that included food shopping at Sainsbury's and filling up the car as it kept bleeping at me to let me know it was going to strand me in the middle of nowhere if I didn't get my act together!

It was lovely in town (and I rarely say that!).  I headed for the new underground car park (under John Lewis) and there was a very pleasant young man directing people in the right direction.  A nice car park too, no dark and dismal corners and there were parking 'boxes' that gave room for doors to open.

John Lewis was very new and shiny, of course, and, oh dear me, yes, there is a haberdashery department with loads and loads of paper patterns, some fabric (not too expensive), lots of what they call 'notions' over the pond and yarn - oh, the yarn!
However, I was very, very disciplined and just bought two metres of cotton, one Christmas red and one Christmas tree green.

It's all on three floors and I can see that I will need to go back another time to explore more thoroughly, at a time when there aren't long queues, for a treat of a coffee or a chocolate.

Then I found The White Company and I was right, they do have room sprays and I was hard pressed to make a decision.  In the end I blew some cash on three: two room sprays (one is for Christmas) and a pillow mister, but I can see I will be working my way through them all over the next months and years because there wasn't one I didn't like.

Then I discovered that we now have a Hotel Chocolat!  Yes, we do, Beth!!  Oh, dear, oh dear!

I wasn't over impressed with Foyles.  Yes, it was good, all bookshops of that ilk are, but I don't think it's as good as Waterstones which isn't too far away.

Finally I went to Lakeland and bought everything I needed so, all in all, a very successful trip.

When I got the the car park before nine it was almost completely empty.  When I got back it was jam packed full!  I was glad I went early!

I was all spent out yesterday because I also got a cardi and a jumper at Sainsbury's.  I've not bought myself any clothes for a very long time so I don't feel guilty, but I will need to be frugal now for a few weeks.

After all that, I spent the afternoon recovering and the evening watching Strictly!

Today is going to be another quiet day, mainly spent cooking/baking and sewing.  Nice.

Food plans:
B  on the plan it's bran flakes, but in reality I think it will be a banana pancake as yesterday because it was so delicious!  I've blogged about it over on Teacher's Recipes!
L:  Someone has recommended roasted tomato and apple soup and, seeing as I have the ingredients, I shall give it a whirl.  It's a thermomix recipe.
D:  corned beef left over from yesterday and I did an extra jacket potato too so that adds up to corned beef hash, a childhood favourite and I also have more runner beans.  Dessert will probably be yogurt and pineapple.

Whatever you are doing, I hope you have a contented day.

Saturday, 8 October 2016


Would you believe we are already a quarter of the way through October?  I'm finding it hard to credit that the time is passing so quickly but it is!  It's been a good night's sleep too and I am only just awake so maybe my spell of restlessness is over.  It doesn't look wonderful; out there and yesterday was definitely dull, damp and dismal but never mind, that's what four walls, a roof and central heating are all about, isn't it?

I enjoyed the swim yesterday.  Now that it is term time, there are also school groups using the pool which limits the available swimming space but Beth and I just go sideways into the diving pool part where three lengths equals one of the main pool's lengths and chug backward and forward in there.  We have a pattern - two full lengths and a little chat, two lengths and a little chat.  Works for us and makes it a fun social time as well as some exercise.  In the diving pit we tread water between lengths as it is so deep, of course, so we're still moving!

Then it was home, James, and Beth came too.  She carried on with something she is making for a friend and I carried on with one of the owls which is almost finished now.  I just have to locate some buttons, sew on the wings and the back and then stuff which are minor jobs.
I taught Beth how to insert a zip so now she knows!

I made another batch of cream of mushroom soup as we both love it so much and it was delicious.  Part of that might be because as I was making it I forgot I was doing a half quantity and added the full amount of cream.  It wasn't a lot anyway, granted, but it did make a difference so I will remember that.
It was supposed to make enough for two but they must have means two extremely hungry people because there's enough left for my lunch today.

I also made some spelt bread using a new recipe that has sunflower seeds, allspice and cumin and it definitely made for an extremely tasty loaf.  The texture was very open as it is a one rise recipe, but oh, the flavour!

Today, weather permitting, I am going into town.  I don't HAVE to but I do have a short list of items to get from Lakeland and I really would like to explore the new shopping centre.  I know all the shops aren't open yet but Foyles, White Company and John Lewis . . . you know . . .

So as a treat (yes, I am fortunate I can), I have given myself permission to spend.   It's interesting, but when I have done this before, the results have been interesting in that somehow I don't really seem to want, even less need, very much at all.  There are a few things I will be looking for.  For example, I have run out of nice room spray, the sort you get in National Trust shops, and it might be the sort of thing the White Company has.
Anyway, we will see.

Once home, I shall probably drop.  I find shopping quite hard, even if it is fun, and I dislike crowds, which is why I am going early.

After a restorative coffee, I need to deal with multiple runner beans and also I reckon the tomatoes are coming to the end of their lives so I will strip the montellos and then see how the others are looking.  Green tomato chutney, here we come!

Today's food plans:
B:  banana pancake with yogurt and honey; apple
L:  mushroom soup; pear
D:  jacket potato with corned beef and runner beans; stewed apple and custard

Friday, 7 October 2016


Good morning!  It's well after five this morning and I am really grateful for the good sleep - around eight hours of it - with just the obligatory wander down the landing to the loo to disturb the continuity.  I feel so much more with it this morning.  Cheers!

It seems no time at all since I would be watching the sun come up as I sat here typing at this time, but not any more.  In a couple of weeks the evenings will also start earlier too.  Already the curtains are drawn before I have my dinner each evening.  It's weird how putting the clocks back seems to make the evenings darker but not the mornings brighter!

No complaints from me though.  Yes, I love the bright and sunny early mornings and later evenings of summer but I also love the dark, cosy times over the autumn and winter months.  My cotton dressing gown is now away and I'm using my cuddly, fleecy one and it's lovely.  Slippers have replaced bare feet mornings and evenings and, increasingly, during the day too as we've had some rather more chilly ones recently, haven't we?

Yesterday was beautifully sunny but not all that warm out of the sun.  I opened the French windows from time to time to refresh the house, especially after making my lunchtime soup (which was really nice so I will blog about it over on Teacher's Recipes!), but they didn't stay open all that long.

Thursday is tuition day and it all went well.  I'm really enjoying these one to ones.  I hope they are too.

Today starts with swimming (yay) and then Beth is coming back to me for the day and we are owling.  With any luck we will get them all finished apart from buttons and, therefore, stuffing because the buttons have to be sewn on before they are stuffed.

That's it really - a simple and contented day.

Today's food:
B:  apple (before swimming), beans on toast (after swimming - must remember to get some bread out of the freezer)
L:  home made veg soup of some kind - probably mushroom as I have some mushrooms to use up; apple
D:  tuna and veg pasta, same as yesterday because I made enough for two days; yogurt and pineapple
S:  choccy drink

Thursday, 6 October 2016


Hello, everyone.  I'm up really early again.  Just occasionally it gets me down a bit.  Just before five is one thing but just before four seems way too early.  When I was younger, I used to be able to snooze but not any more.  I just get stiff and restless and have to get up.

I suppose maybe it's a good thing as I do have planning to look over and tweak:  I intend to get that done after I've finished this so it's off my mind.  Then I have a free morning (no diary commitments, anyway) so maybe I can have a little snooze.

I feel much more presentable now after the lovely Sharon came over and did my hair.  That's the problem with short hair.  When I had very long hair, and chopped my own fringe, it really didn't matter but now it needs regular attention.  It feels lovely when it's done though!

The rest of the day went well.  I made some mushroom pate for Beth to take home and some ginger fairings for the governors' meeting in the evening.  Beth and I did a bit of owling too.  Just over a year  ago I started quilting and ambitiously tried to make a gift for a colleague who had just had a baby.  The individual panels went well but the putting it all together wasn't so good and the quilt, although finished, was never given - I made a better one!

I kept it because it seemed wrong to chuck it.

Recently, we were given an order for an owl, slightly smaller than the ones we usually make, and the colour was specified.  I looked thoughtfully at this quilt and realised that one of the panels would make a great front for the owl, was the right colour and was already quilted so guess what - it's now been cut back into the four panels and one of them is on the way to becoming an owl!  I am happy that the work I did is not going to be wasted.

Today's food:
B:  bran flakes, apple
L:  home made veg soup, melon
D:  tuna pasta bake, orange
S:  choccy drink

Wednesday, 5 October 2016


Just a quick one today.  It looks fine outside, reasonably clear skies and a little breeze blowing.  The heating clicked on so it must be chilly.  Since the boiler was replaced I have noticed a distinct improvement in boiler reaction so that's good.

I had a lovely time in school yesterday morning, helping M by doing some baseline assessments with individual children.  It was nice to have the opportunity to work with individuals and now I know several of their names!

When I tidied out the cupboards on Monday, I had several packs of dried pulses that were - er - a bit out of date.  Knowing that they would still be OK to eat anyway, I decided to soak and cook and if they ended up too hard, I could either chuck them or maybe pulse them down into a paste with garlic and other seasonings.  After soaking over Mon day night and cooking yesterday, both the haricot beans and the red kidney beans were fine so I have several little pots ready for the freezer.

I then did the same with a few butter beans and a pack of chickpeas, which have been soaking overnight and will be cooked this afternoon.

When they're done, I intend to mix some of the portions up so I have pots of mixed beans for pies, etc.  It's not helping to reduce the amount of stuff in the freezer, for sure, but it does mean that the dried pulses are one big step closer to being used which is definitely a Good Thing.

Beth will be round today and we are going to 'owl' together.  At midday, Sharon is round and we will both  feel much better after she deals with our hair.  I do feel so tatty and shaggy at the moment.

After that it is tuition and then, in the evening, it is Governor's meeting.  Greater love hath no girl than this, that she misses Bake Off for her school!  Bit sad really!

So quite a full day really.

B:  bacon and tomatoes, melon
L:  cream of mushroom soup, fruit
D:  not sure because of the governor's meeting.  I will probably fit some fruit in between tuition and the meeting.

Tuesday, 4 October 2016


Well, wasn't it a lovely day yesterday?  Not terribly warn except in direct sunlight in the afternoon and even then it wasn't overly warm, but so bright and cheerful.  I have no idea about today: it's far too early to tell but fingers crossed for the same.

In the morning I pootled along to school to drop off the bread and some jam and then meandered down to St Andrew's Church for the morning version of Harvest Festival.  I was very instrumental in starting off the Harvest Festival thing for our school decades ago and at first the whole school walked down.  Oh, my, the church was packed and it was jolly uncomfortable, especially as the parents were their usual supportive selves and came along in droves.  Nowadays the school is split down the middle so one class in each year group goes in the morning and the other class goes in the afternoon.  Much more sensible.

After that I came home and set to in the kitchen, sorting out the cupboards.  It took quite a while but it's now a lot more ordered and I have a much clearer idea of what I've got.  There was a bit of chucking out, of course, but never mind.
There's a list sellotaped on the inside of one of the cupboards now, the one with all the tins and jars of stuff.

Then, in the evening and after dinner, I meant to get out the ironing board and clear the mess in the ironing basket but I fell asleep instead.  Never mind, it can wait.

What I also didn't do was the tuition planning that that's a non-negotiable for today!  Has to be done.

Today I will spend the morning in school and then it's back home to continue my fairly gentle sort out of cupboards, etc.  At some point I have to tackle the bedroom over the stairs.  That will be a somewhat formidable task, for sure.   The stair head cupboard is ram-packed full of all sorts of stuff that hasn't seen the light of day for years and could, therefore, be chucked, if one works on the principle that if you haven't used it for about eighteen months, then you don't need it.
Not today but before Christmas would be good!

Today's food:
B:  yogurt, pineapple and granola; apple
L:  home made soup of some kind, probably mushroom as I have some to use up plus some cream; apple and orange
D:  fish fingers, home made wedges, runner beans, tomatoes; yogurt and pineapple
S:  choccy drink

Monday, 3 October 2016

Garden update

. . . because it is such a wonderfully sunny morning!

The runner beans are still producing fruit galore - and plenty of flowers that still look to be setting.  That's the beauty of self pollinating varieties, I guess.

The montellos are looking somewhat battered now and the leaves are fading but there's still a fair number of fruits to ripen, if they get the opportunity

Ditto with the sungolds and giuliettas

Will they or won't they?

Finally, this morning's picking.

The provision may be limited but it is still great and I am enjoying what I pick.


Good morning, gentle readers.  Another new week with plenty of things to do!

Yesterday was a good day (as usual).  I pottered around in the kitchen and Thermione did her usual good job making . . .
tomato ketchup (finishing it off so I could jar it anyway)

a very nice home made soup (with enough left over for today as well), a sort of very vague minestrone type affair

which I ate with one of the mini-fougasse I made, just plain and very delicious

while in the afternoon my spelt and granary loaves moved slowly towards baking.

One of these is now sliced and in the freezer while the other one is waiting to be delivered.
And I have an order for a herb and olive fougasse too - not a mini one, a proper sized one for later on in the week.  Nice!

Today I shall be going to the school's Harvest Festival this morning and then the day's my own.  I want to sort out a few kitchen cupboards and generally do a bit of a clear out and then I shall get the planning done for this week's tuition this afternoon so that's out of the way.

Then, this evening, two of my favourite programmes are on - University Challenge followed by Only Connect.  In fact, Monday is a great evening's viewing all through so I shall set up my ironing board and make hay of the stack of weekend washing.

Today's food:
B:  baked oats with grated apple and cinnamon.
L:  the other half of the minestrone soup with a mini-fougasse, melon
D:  Italian chicken sausages, new pots, runner beans, chutney; yogurt and pineapple

Sunday, 2 October 2016


Hello again, gentle readers.  Amazingly, after several months of very early waking, I am starting to sleep a little longer again and it's definitely half-light early morning now.  From what I can see (and feel), it's going to be another day like yesterday - cool and mostly dull with a bit of sun and maybe some rain as well.

Well, no fougasse yesterday.  By the time I had fed the cats at Beth's x 2, sorted out the mess I call my kitchen, washed and hung out some clothes, made some cream of tomato soup (so, so gorgeous) and made some tomato ketchup which took for ever as the tomatoes are very juicy so I had to boil away the sauce to thicken it but which tastes great, I really wasn't in the mood for dough and anyway, it would have taken me late into the evening.  That's my excuse anyway.  It's probably more truthful to say I had an extremely lazy day, although I had to get moving at one point when I glanced out and it was hailing.  HAILING!!!  I got absolutely soaked getting the washing in quickly and ended up using the tumble dryer (for the washing, not for me) to finish off the drying.

I did, however, do the monthly finance summary.  It's been an expensive month, has September, one way and another, so October is going to be noted for frugality, I think.  It is OK, not a problem, but even so, I'd rather be saving than spending.  Seems I'm doing OK with using gas as I got a useful little refund into my bank on Friday.

Today IS fougasse day.  I even went to Morrisons and searched out some semolina for the dusting because I know that does make a difference to the crust.  I also have a 'normal' loaf to make for my sole customer and I think this time it will be a mixture of spelt and granary flour and, while I am at it, I will make a loaf for me as well and slice it before freezing.  The mornings are getting colder and it's jolly nice to have a slice of toast with your eggs or whatever.

I wonder what semolina is like as a pud with dessert.  I haven't had it since my schooldays and thought it OK then.  What I couldn't stand was tapioca - urgh.

Today's food:
B:  bran flakes; apple
L:  home made veg soup of some kind; melon
D:  veg curry and rice (and I might have some runner beans too - fusion food), yogurt and pineapple
It's a no-meat day today!

Saturday, 1 October 2016


It doesn't seem all that long ago that I gave you a pinch and a punch for a new month and here I am doing it again!  Where on earth is the year going?  September has passed and October is here.  Three quarters of the year is past and over.  We're starting to see a few festive things in the shops and I love it.  I don't put up any decorations until the last possible moment but I have absolutely no objection to seeing things much earlier and I have a sort of personal tradition which is to buy one special decoration each year.  It has to be red or gold because that's my colour scheme and I have to think it is beautiful in one way or another.

Light is just starting to dawn here and it looks dry but feels cool.  Dressing gown and slippers are not out and in use!

I had a splendidly lazy day yesterday.  I was good and got dressed but really I didn't need to as, apart from Beth who popped round for a short time at the start of the day, I didn't see anyone and nobody saw me.  Just what was needed and I feel a lot better this morning.

I started off by finishing off the mincemeat which is now packed away in jars to mellow.  It really does smell and taste wonderful and I can see that I shall be making mince pies well before Christmas this year.

Then I dealt with the crab apples and have a jar and a half of beautifully pink jelly.  I looked at the remaining pulp, thought there was no way I could waste that, dug some raspberries out of the freezer and I now have six pots of seedless raspberry and crab apple jam as well.  It has set very soft but looks and tastes wonderful.  As the fruit was all given to me, that is very frugal jam, even when using jam sugar.

I picked some runner beans and there were enough needing picking for several days so there was some last night, some today, maybe, and some for the freezer and there's still more to pick and more flowers setting.  I know that the self pollinating bean seeds did cost more but they have more than paid for themselves.  I wonder if they will go on until the first frost.

Thank you for all the kind comments about the bag.  After all the angst, it did turn out OK and I think I shall make one for myself, without a zip and a bit bigger and a bit wider but definitely with the pockets on the outside - although, thinking about it, I could put the pockets on the lining instead and have them inside.  Must think about that one!

Chelmsford does seem to be a very up and coming place, very different to when I moved to this area in the early 1980s.  The latest excitement is a new shopping complex including a White Company, Foyles (woohoo) and, best of all, a John Lewis.  John Lewis and some of the other shops opened this week and great was the excitement thereof.  I had wondered about going in on Thursday, on opening day, but I didn't feel brilliant and I gather it was chock-a-block full so maybe it's just as well.  I don't do crowds all that well.
I then wondered about today but I can't get in early and that's the only time I would get a parking slot right now.  So maybe next week or, perhaps, tomorrow morning?  We will see.

Today I will definitely be having a go at the fougasse from Bake Off and I have it in my mind to use up a whole load of tomatoes making a tomato ketchup but apart from that we shall see how things pan out, I think.  I still have some apples that Jackie gave me and have need to search for an apple chutney recipe that uses things I already have in store.  Thank goodness for Google!

Today's food plans:
B:  oat bran galette with pineapple and yogurt, orange
L:  red pepper hummus and salad wrap, melon
D:  cheese and chive burger, new pots, runner beans, spicy ketchup, pineapple and yogurt