Saturday, 31 December 2016

Saturday

Finally, it is Saturday at last!  New Year's Eve again, the end of another year, one which has been quite good for me personally although not so good in other rather more important and significant ways.

It's not icy this morning.  In fact, the ice cleared quickly yesterday, leaving a dull, damp, dismal, slightly foggy day with not a glimmer of sun to relieve the depression.  I've checked the BBC weather and they seem to think it will be the same today too.

I bustled around getting the house sorted out for the cleaners, not that it took long as it's still in its Christmas and tidy state.  Then I sat and knitted while watching a DVD: highly indulgent and very much enjoyed.  When the cleaners arrived I went out.  I like to give them a clear run and also there's a puritanical streak inside me that makes me feel incredibly guilty if they are working while I am playing.  I know I would only be in the way if I tried to help as they have their methods and routines and anyway, what do I pay them for, so I tend to disappear.

Yesterday I headed off for Hobbycraft but realised before very long that, judging by the traffic and the queues for various car parks, I wouldn't stand a snowball's chance of a parking slot.  And so it was - as I approached the Hobbycraft roundabout, the queues each way to get in dismayed me so much I headed off in a different direction and ended up at Sainsbury's where there was some parking to be seen.

I pottered round, treated myself to some new slippers and the new monthy food magazines which I will enjoy over the next fortnight or so.  I've weaned myself off the weekly rubbish magazines now, but the monthlies do seem much better value and can be very interesting, although there's not always very much I actually fancy making and the recipes tend to be pretty expensive.

Once home again, I settled to some more knitting.  I have finished the knitting for the doll itself and now have to work out how it all goes together, especially putting on the hair.  Once I have done all that, making the clothes will be great fun!

Then I have another crib set to make for someone.  I have decided to make one piece in the set per week.  After all, I do have almost all year to get it done!

Today starts with some shopping - Hobbycraft will be fine first thing in the morning.  Then I have ironing to do and a bed to make up.  Alex is staying over tonight.  I asked what he would like to eat, expecting him to say pizza, but he asked for a Christmas dinner as he wasn't really that well last week, didn't have much and didn't really enjoy what he did have.  That's easy - I have the turkey in the freezer and the rest is really just a simple roast dinner with a few bells on, the component parts of which I already have or can make.

Today's food
B:  bran flakes and fruit
L:  home made soup
D:  Christmas dinner !!!

Time for a coffee and then I shall make the stuffing - dead easy with a packet mix and some added bacon and ham for flavour.  I have half an onion so I will chop that finely, microwave it soft and add it to the mix too.

Have a great day, however you are spending it and enjoy any celebrations of which you may be a part.  See you next year.




Friday, 30 December 2016

Friday

The days really are getting confused.  All day yesterday it felt like Friday so today has to be Saturday, right?  Wrong!  Another Friday!  Friday's are nice so no complaints!

It's still jolly cold and shaded bits of my garden remained frosty all day yesterday.  I gather it is expected to remain cold through the weekend before maybe warming up a bit next week.  It's nice to have some proper frosts: they make the world look so attractive.

Yesterday went well.  I made some broccoli soup with the left over broccoli stem and it was delicious.  I have some cream left over so I added a bit plus a bit of soft cheese which always adds a little something to the flavour of a soup.  I made a 'Turkey leftovers biryani' that I found on the Tesco site and it, also, was jolly tasty - still is as there's enough soup and curry for today as well.

I made myself get organised and booked the car in for a service.  It's needed one for a while and the local Peugeot place makes it very simple.  All done online and they tell you how much it will cost.  They also do a car collection and delivery back afterwards at no extra cost so I've gone for that as it makes things so much easier for me.
I thought it would need an MOT but no, not until September so that's now in my diary so I don't forget.
Finally, I paid my road tax.  They really do make it so simple nowadays.  All online, all done in less than five minutes.
So the car is now legal for the next year.

The PC is home again and running smoothly, thanks to my clever friend, Eddie.  How I would manage the technology side of things without his help I really don't know.  How fortunate am I, eh?

Since stopping teaching, I have used home printed sheets as my diary which has worked fine.  However, for Christmas, Alex gave me a lovely A5 whole page per day diary with an embroidered, applique, beaded owly cover from Paperchase so I am transferring all my info from the sheets to the book and using that instead.  A most useful and welcomed gift - thanks, Al.

Once I have done that, I need to make sure the house is reasonable by sorting out my corner where I sit, knit and watch telly.  It's a bit of a mess but it is all superficial and five minutes of sorting will deal with it.  The cleaners are coming and I do like them to have a clear run.

While the cleaners are here, I'm off out to Hobbycraft (if I can find a parking slot).  I'm making some more nativity crib sets (on commissions so if you're interested, do post in comments) and am out of skin coloured yarn.  I also want to knit a Santa for our stall next Christmas, maybe as a raffle prize, and I don't have the right red for it.

Today's food is the same as yesterday's as the recipes made enough for two.  I have blogged about the biryani recipe on Teacher's Recipes as it was dead easy and really tasty!
http://fooddiaryofteacher.blogspot.co.uk/2016/12/leftover-turkey-biryani.html

So, today's food is:
B:  turkey dripping on toast
L: broccoli soup
D: turkey leftovers biryani
plus assorted fruit for snacks.

Have a super day.


Thursday, 29 December 2016

Thursday

Good morning, gentle readers.  Around here it is another very cold and frosty early morning but no fog at the moment.  Because of my early waking habits, the heating comes on at around five, so it's nice and cosy and, as usual, I am counting my blessings with sincere gratitude.

I finished off dealing with that old turkey yesterday and now I have enough meat for twelve meals squirrelled away in my freezer in old take away containers - four of sliced white breast meat and eight of chunks of mixed brown and white, all covered in stock.  I have frozen portions for two rather than for one because I can see me using them when Alex comes over.  I also have a small pot of turkey fat which I will use when frying or roasting, I think, or maybe as dripping on toast, a real throwback to childhood when it was a favourite.  In fact, that's what I shall have for breakfast today, well seasoned.  Hardly healthy but most certainly economical!

So that's the end of the turkey and the cooked veg and there is one mince pie left.  Also, embarrassingly, I found an old Christmas pudding (commercial, not home made) in a high cupboard that is now over a year out of date (pudding, not cupboard).  I console myself with the fact that Mum used to keep her puddings for years and, at some point, will open it and see.  It it is manky, I shall chuck it but if, as I suspect, it is still OK, I shall enjoy it very much.

Back to yesterday.  After sorting the turkey, I continued with the washing and got a few loads done.  At one point the door leaked and my heart sank, but I think it must have not closed properly because after that it was fine again.  A bit unnerving though!

Now I have finished the knitted crib, I have nothing to knit, so I looked through my collection of Greenhowe patterns and found one for a 'dress up doll' quite like one children had in the olden days.  A doll in underwear and patterns for removable garments.  I have a number of friends with little girls and so does Beth and I am sure it will end up somewhere so, while watching Harry Potter I started knitting again.

Not having something to do with my hands when I set down of an afternoon and/or evening just feels so wrong but at my age I don't want to knit just any old thing!  It has to appeal.

Today, being Thursday, is usually wheelie bin day and it took me a while to remember that they're not coming today, they are collecting tomorrow this week.  I am most impressed that they have managed to keep the once a week collection going through the holiday week.  My bin is full and over the road, where they have children, their bin is overflowing.  To miss a week, as used to happen, would be a minor disaster!
I have been very good this week and have the bag of recycling card ready for collection.  All the paper is in a basket and I need to flatten it all out so that when the card has been taken I can put the paper in the sack instead for next week's collection.

Today will be spent washing, drying and ironing but the major task on the list is to turn out the fridge and see exactly what is left.  Then I can plan my meals accordingly.  I will have to do a little bit of shopping as Alex is staying overnight, but a pizza and some crisps is not going to break the bank.

Today's food will probably be , , ,
B:  toast and dripping
L: broccoli soup (made with a stem I saved earlier on in the week)
D:  something turkey-ish, most likely curry as I have a recipe for left-over turkey biryani.

And now I must have my first coffee . . .

Wednesday, 28 December 2016

Wednesday

It is Wednesday, isn't it?  < checks >  Yes, it is.  I'm losing count of the days at the moment!  It's very cold out there with freezing fog so go carefully!  It's nice and warm inside though!

I haven't mentioned presents yet, have I?  We really only give very small gifts, if anything at all and that is absolutely fine.  It's an agreement we all have.  I find that most of the things I give have been home made, one way or another.  Dad was pleased with the fabric book mark I gave him and immediately replaced the one he had in his current book, which was a strip of newspaper, while his eyes lit up at the liqueur chocolates!  John seemed happy with the jars of preserves, the biscotti and the fudge (and a book mark like dad's).  Jane liked her fluffy scarf and fudge.  Mum absolutely loved the nativity crib set (phew).

I bought books for Beth, gave Alex a cheque (older teens - you know!) while Dave and Anna had a box of different chutneys (not home made this year).

So nothing very expensive and much home made and there was a lot of love around as we all opened our parcels.

Yesterday was a busy day.  Mum and Dad went home and by midday I had three lots of washing on the line.  Not that any of them  actually dried very much in the cold and still air but at least they got a freshening up.  I damp ironed it all later on and it is now airing on a rack by a radiator.  The fourth lot of washing went into the tumble dryer so will be harder to iron but never mind!
More today but slow and steady wins the race and my machine does have a very useful 'speed' setting

I ended up with a huge pot of turkey carcass and stock which simmered for hours.  It set overnight so I am reheating it, giving it another good boil and doing the rest today.  



I meant to start catching up with my Christmas viewing but there were some Harry Potter things on ITV plus Mastermind and University Challenge so I didn't start.  It will keep, after all.

Today's food:
B:  bran flakes and fruit
L:  bubble and squeak patties with a side salad
D:  either turkey and veg pie or a curry - I haven't decided which yet.

Time for my second coffee so I will stop now.  Have a good day and stay warm!


Tuesday, 27 December 2016

Tuesday

Good morning, gentle readers.  It's a chilly, bracing morning, just as they told us it would be, and I'm hoping those clear skies herald a good drying day today.  I do hope so as I have copious amounts of bedding to deal with and I do dislike having it hanging around for too long.

So it's all over for another year.  Well, all bar sorting out the aftermath - moved furniture, too much left over food, etc.  My last guests are leaving this morning and life more or less reverts to normal again.  I'm looking forward to peace and quiet and time to catch up on all the telly I have missed over this last weekend.  Thinks like Going on a Bear Hunt, Bake Off, Doctor Who, the Carols from Kings, Strictly . . . oh, so many things I really wanted to watch.  Thank goodness for iPlayer and the like.

Apart from the aforementioned washing (plus drying and ironing, of course), my main task for today is dealing with the turkey.

It's an odd sort of problem to have really.  I always get my turkey from Kelly's of Danbury.  Famous and justifiably so with the added advantage of being a local business.  Terribly expensive but real quality and anyway, I get financial backing from my parents, bless them.
Anyway, when I opened the box which came on Friday, there was a note inside saying that their turkeys had grown exceptionally well this year and therefore they had given me a bit more.  A bit more?  I had ordered a 7k bird and what came was more akin to a 9k bird.  My heart sank somewhat because the last time that happened I had ordered a much bigger bird as I had more guests and the resulting giant wouldn't fit in even my largest roasting tin and I had to borrow mum's largest tin, hack off the legs and even then it was touch and go!

This time, however, it just fitted so all was well!

However, it does mean there is more leftover than anticipated, even after sending John home with a goodly amount and ditto with my other guests who are leaving today.  Beth's cats will be treated and after stripping the carcass, the rest will go into the freezer to be used over the next few weeks/months.  The resulting delicious stock will partly go into home made soups and the rest will go towards the gravy for next year's turkey.  I know it sounds odd but I do like to make the gravy in advance as I hate that last minute rush, so some good frozen stock is just the ticket!

So that's today all sorted out!

The decorations are staying put until Twelfth Night and so are the pictures on this blog.  😊

I stopped mentioning my meals towards the end of the year as things got less organised but I shall start again now.  So . . .
B:  toast and fruit
L:  ham/turkey salad, apple
D:  leftovers bubble and squeak, orange

Monday, 26 December 2016

Boxing Day - Monday

Good morning, everyone.  It's a lovely, sunny day today and we are all bleary eyed and inclined towards sleep.

Food is leftovers and then more leftovers, so a very easy day really.  Folk are coming for lunch but leaving afterwards.

Yesterday was great but after a very busy Christmas Eve and a very early wake on The Day, by the time lunch was over I was ready to crash.  So I did.  As I said on Facebook:

"I'm now enjoying ye olde, anciente tradition that goeth something like . . .
'She (or he) who doeth ye dinner, doth not do ye clearing, washing uppe and putting awaye.' "

A few photos of tables but not of people as they don't want me to.  Fair enough!



Now I'm off into the kitchen to start organising leftovers.  Such hard work!  😀

I hope yesterday was all you wanted it to be and that today is also a good day.

Sunday, 25 December 2016

Christmas Day - Sunday

Wishing all my 'gentle readers' a very happy, peaceful and joy filled Christmas Day.



The last Christmas music has to be a double dose of some very familiar and well loved music.



I missed an awful lot out.  Maybe I will do it again next year and start on December 1st.

Have a great day!


Saturday, 24 December 2016

Saturday: Christmas Eve.

Morning, everyone!  It's been a bit blowy, hasn't it, although I gather the north has had it worse.  The wind picked up yesterday morning and it was fun watching it tossing the branches and bushes.
I've been out to mop up the rest of the shopping (yes, I know what I said, but I feel most uncomfortable without any plain flour) and it's chilly and just spitting with rain.

As the song goes, I had a little list and didn't stick to it but I wasn't too naughty - not really.  It was busier than early Thursday morning and the shop staff looked a bit strained, bless them.  They can't look forward to today very much, I am sure.  Despite this, there were lots of smiles and 'Merry Christmas' greetings being exchanged so I hope the day goes quickly.  They are opening on Boxing Day but, I gather from what one checkout lady said, it is a voluntary thing and she's not!).  I do wonder if it will be worth it.

Yesterday first thing, I finished off the little sheep for the crib, breathed a sigh of relief and then remembered that I hadn't done the gifts for the wise men.  More fiddly stuff!  All done now, as you can see from the photo at the top, each figure is wrapped in white tissue and they are all in a red shiny gift bag.  I did all the wrapping at the same time, although there wasn't really all that much to do.  Multiple gifts go with smaller children and in our gang even Alex is adult now.  Having said that, it still looks exciting!

(you can see the red shiny bag!)
I pottered around doing bits and bobs until family arrived.  We had home made soup (tomato and mushroom - not together!) for lunch and then I sat down and fell asleep.  After waking I sorted the flowers/holly so now there are several very amateurish displays around the house.  The holly is from Mum and Dad.  They pick some when their tree is full of berries, before the birds realise and scoff, and keep it in a bin liner bag.  Surprisingly, the berries glow as freshly as when they were still on the tree and the displays look very festive.  I have made a mental note to have some oasis in for next year though as holly seems to have a mind of its own!

What's the betting I won't remember?

The turkey has arrived and is sitting in state in the shed, still in its chilled packaging, until I decide to get it oven ready today which won't take too long as it is a KellyBronze and I cook it their recommended way which is very simple and very delicious.

I'm saving my energy so we had take away Chinese for dinner.  Such a doddle and minimal washing up afterwards.  It was jolly tasty too.

Given that it is Christmas Eve, I HAVE to have this as my music for today.  I love the tradition that they don't know who is singing the solo until just before filming starts, the conductor just points to the chosen one and off they go.  No time to panic!


And now I need another coffee.  Have a great day, however you spend this festive season, and may all your problems be small ones.

Friday, 23 December 2016

Friday

Good morning everyone.  As a young friend said, it is now Christmas Eve eve and so it is!  Welcome to it!

Well, yesterday turned out to be a long and busy one but it went really well.  The shopping was all done, the beds were all made, everything has been wrapped and the house smelled wonderful - a mixture of bread, shortbread, biscotti and stollen.  So festive.
Stollen, using the James Martin recipe.  Probably not authentic but, my word, it smells good.

Nigella's cranberry and pistachio biscotti.  Very easy.

My usual bread - wrapped for the freezer.

Snowflake shortbread.  I'm really getting the hang of it now.  It needs dredging with caster sugar before serving.

I was a wee bit unfrugal at Morrisons and treated myself to some flowers.  I'm glad I did - a bit of natural is nice amidst all the red and gold and shine.

Finally the nativity crib is finished.  The last little bits seem to take for ever but I got there.  A very nice gift for someone special.

Today I have the morning to finish stuff off and then my visitors arrive.  I still have a fair old list of things to do but none of them are really crucial.
Christmas starts today!

Today's Christmas music - two again - are old favourites of mine.
'Oh little one sweet' with those wonderful Bach harmonies.

and 'Unto us is born a son'

Thursday, 22 December 2016

Thursday

Grumble, grumble.  Why is it that when I have the whole day free, no commitments or responsibilities, I wake around four o'clock and can't nod off again whereas on a day like today when there's a list of things as long as my arm and an early morning shop to do, I'm struggling to keep awake!  Somebody-or-other's law, I have no doubt!

I even needed the alarm and that's something I haven't heard all that much since I retired!

Still, I'm up, bathed and looking forward to my first coffee which will be of the full caffeine variety.  That should do the trick.  Then it will be off to Morrison's.

Yesterday was satisfying.  The cleaners worked their usual magic and a bit more (like windows - yay) while I worked on the knitted crib set.  It takes almost as long to construct each figure as it does to knit it, particularly the wise men, as the headdresses are extremely fiddly.  I knew I had come to the end of my concentration yesterday evening when I realised that I had just sewed a shepherd's beard on upside down!!
I went to bed!

Never mind, today I just have him to finish, Mary, a baby and a few lambs to make up and then it is ready for a photo before wrapping.  There's a day and a half before my first visitor arrives so it'll get done.

Apart from that, I have plenty of baking to keep me occupied.  Stollen, biscotti, bread, shortbread and sundry vegetarian things are all on the list today.  If I get all that done plus sundry bits of tidying up and ironing in the evening, I will be a very happy bunny.


Today's music is 'See Amid the Winter's Snow'.  It is perhaps slower than I would take it but the singing is fantastic.


Also (because time is short and there are so many), here's the Holst version of the lovely Rosetti poem, 'In the Bleak Midwinter'.



Both, of course, sung by the incomparable Choir of Kings College, Cambridge.


Edited at 8:30 to cheer
Shopping done, Morrison's almost empty.  We few hardy souls exchanged rueful grins as we piled out trolleys with stuff.   What I haven't got now we will have to Do Without!  We won't starve.

It was 2°C when I went in and by the time I left it had dropped to around zero and the car was icing up.  It is dull and, unfortunately, foggy, so if you're driving, take care.


Wednesday, 21 December 2016

Wednesday

Morning, everyone.  Things are getting close now, aren't they. Four days and then the so-called biggie.  I'm amazed at how laid back I feel about it all.  After all, it is only a roast dinner with bells on.  The rest is family fun and that is never a problem.

So why, why, why am I awake at this unearthly time of the day?  There's nothing on my mind.  Everything is under control.  Aaaaarrrrrggggghhhhh

This morning the cleaners come.  After that it will just be dusting and a bit of sweeping.  Even the windows will be washed.  The food is under control and the shopping list is sitting beside me, ready for any last minute additions.  The beds are made.  The decorations, such as they are, are done.  What could possibly go wrong (don't answer that one, please)

This afternoon I am off to Carols by Candlelight at school and then I suspect it will be alcohol and a Christmas DVD in the evening.  I may no longer have 'terms' but that doesn't mean I can't celebrate with those who do, does it?

I'm going traditional carols for the last few days.  Today is one of my favourites, originally a plainchant type thingy (see how technical I can be).  There are lots of versions on You Tube but I like this one.  Simple and beautiful.
Veni, veni Emmanuel.




Tuesday, 20 December 2016

Tuesday

Hi, everyone.  It feels jolly cold this morning so I am snugly wrapped in my fleece-type dressing gown and slippers with a steaming coffee beside me and the Christmas tree lights twinkling behind me and it feels wonderful.  I know I grumble about my early waking habits but I do love these quiet, peaceful times when I feel safe and warm and at peace.

Coffee and cakes at school yesterday was very pleasant.  I had some good catch up chats with people and it was all very enjoyable indeed.

Then it was home for the rest of the day where I got bits and bobs done and sorted.

Today is rather more busy.  I am going to Al's last ever annual review of statement this morning, then on to school for a short while and then, after that, the lovely Sharon is round to do our Christmas cut.  I'm glad - my hair feels rather shaggy right now and definitely needs a tidy up.

Today's music is local.  A Christmas song written by a friend,  Nicki Sims.  I was lucky to find a recording of it - I wasn't sure that there was one still around but You Tube is a great resource!

 I love this song.



Monday, 19 December 2016

Monday

Good morning!  It's very early again but never mind.  Apart from one thing, the day's my own today so if I need to snooze, I can.
I suspected an early rising because I slept on and off through Miracle on 34th Street yesterday evening before disappearing up to bed.

Yesterday was great though.  Beth and Al turned up just in time for lunch and, after eating, we set to and sorted out the decorations.  Now the house looks merry and festive (as well as a bit messy again - that's a job for today) with a wreath on the door, the candles up and around and the Christmas tree in its rightful place with the Guardians of the Tree sitting beside it, keeping an eye on everything (that's just a silly tradition of ours).


After that we watched The Snowman and Father Christmas before I set up the buffet.  It was very pleasant.

So Beth and Al are still asleep upstairs.  When they have gone I will scuttle around and sort out the beds for Mum, Dad and John next weekend and then all I need to do is keep upstairs tidy which is not too difficult, even for a messy individual like me.

Parts of downstairs are still messy but it is just a matter of putting stuff away really.

I always treat myself to an extra clean just before Christmas (the house, not me) at I got an email yesterday to tell me when they would be coming.  It's a perfect time and fits in with this week's timetable beautifully so I am very pleased.

So, today is tidying, sorting, everything away and by this evening I expect the place will look great - fingers crossed.  The last wise man is nearly finished and then I have the task of sewing and stuffing it all.  So in between tidying, I shall be knitting and ten sewing.  Nice and relaxing so I hope there's decent stuff on the telly.

Today's music is Balulalow from Benjamin Britten's Ceremony of Carols.  I sang this in the 'Ladies Choir' at school (so Girls' Choir really) and, although Britten isn't a favourite composer, I did love parts of the Ceremony of Carols and Balulalow is one of the bits I loved.  Beautiful harmonies, sung by the St Paul's Cathedral Choir.




Edited:  You can tell I'm dopey - I posted this into my recipe blog by mistake.  Doh!  I've cut and pasted and am hoping that the link still works.


Sunday, 18 December 2016

Sunday

Good morning, gentle readers.  A quick glance outside shows me that the fog has cleared so, fingers crossed, we might be in for a brighter day.  Yesterday was unpleasant - the fog never lifted and everywhere was wet.  Another day for being thankful for our blessings.
Christmas oatcakes!

Inside things were a bit on the dismal side too for a while.  I started off well enough, making bread, oatcakes (Christmas style) and a very tasty tomato soup (and that's the end of this year's tomatoes which were ripening on the window ledge) before crashing out, paracetamol not withstanding, and sleeping.  However, sleep was just what the doctor would order, I reckon, as I felt better later.

Later on, Eddie came round and my PC has now been taken to the PC hospital - no, not really, Eddie has taken it home to work on it, as it wasn't something he could sort out quickly.  I'm very thankful for the laptop as I'd be lost without some sort of internet.  How reliant we do get on these things, to be sure.
And Eddie is an absolute star as well as a friend.

After taking Eddie and the PC home, I decided to go on to Morrison's and do my shopping yesterday instead of today and I am glad now that I did.  Then the rest of the day was spent feeling sorry for myself, knitting (well into the third king now) and enjoying the final of Strictly.  My goodness, it was a brilliant final, the best I can remember and I'd have been happy for any of the three to win.  Saying goodbye to Len was so emotional too, bless him.

On to today and all the stuff I was expecting to do yesterday needs doing this morning.  Sigh!

However, lunch (the tomato soup) is made and I have everything for the buffet tea which will be loaded mini potato skins, a cheese board, some salad bits, a Christmas coleslaw, some quiche (thanks, Beth), some ham and some good home-made bread.  I treated us to a chocolate tart thingy for afters.  That should fill any gaps!

So, by this evening, my home should look really merry and festive.  That's the plan, anyway!

Today's music:  it has to be something classical, well loved and familiar.  For unto us a child is born from Handel's Messiah.  The link takes you to the complete Messiah (well worth listening to - Kings with Stephen Cleobury conducting) and 'For unto us' starts at 31:18




For unto us a Child is born,
unto us a Son is given,
and the government
shall be upon His shoulder;
and his name shall be called Wonderful,
Counsellor, the Mighty God,
the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace.
(Isaiah 9:6)

Saturday, 17 December 2016

Saturday

Good morning to you!

Yesterday was another very pleasant day for yours truly.  More pasta salads followed by a Christmas dinner where I ended up sitting with Y1.  Then I went home so knit and snooze the afternoon away.  Goodness, I was so tired!  I did intend to do the ironing in the evening and even piled it all up on a chair ready but while the spirit was indeed willing, the flesh proved far too weak so guess what is first on today's list!

Apart from that, the rest of today will be used up in sorting out bits of general clutter and getting it all away before bringing in the Christmas boxes from the garage.  I will also be preparing for tomorrow's lunch and buffet.  It may only be me, Beth and Al but it will be planned and prepped to within an inch of its life nonetheless!

When I went shopping the other day, Morrisons had wonky potatoes and, when I looked more carefully, the pack said they were Maris Pipers.  Well, couldn't say no to that, could I?  The only wonkiness is that they are quite small so absolutely perfect for a bit of baking!  Loaded potato skins, anyone?

That, with some salad bits, some crisps, a selection of cheese with fresh made bread and a bit of meat for us carnivores followed by some home made biscuits and a few mince pies will do very nicely.  I have to go shopping so tomorrow morning I will be hammering on the door of Morrison's at ten when it opens!.

So that's today.  Work but slow, steady and culminating in the Strictly final this evening so I can then get on with the knitting.  The second wise man is almost finished!

My Christmas music for today is one that I sang in the English version but this is in the original language, sung by the incomparable Kings Singers.

Es ist ein Ros' entsprungen


Friday, 16 December 2016

Friday

Well, the latest cold has well and truly landed and I am dosing up and staying happy!

It helps to stay busy, doesn't it?  I decided not to go back to bed yesterday morning but kept myself occupied until it was time to go to school to help with the pasta salad thingy (which was a great success - nice).

Then I popped over to Morrison's before going home to sit and fall asleep over my knitting.  Tuition was great.  Last one of the year so no more planning until next term.  Woohoo!

Eddie wasn't able to come to look at the PC so it's fingers crossed for the weekend and the laptop is now in place of honour on my desk.

I struggled to keep awake in the evening and managed it until eight o'clock before giving up and going up.  It's been a good night's sleep, despite the snuffles and the sort throat.

Today is more of the same in that I shall be in school to do pasta salad with the other Y3 class.  Before then, when I have finished and posted this, I have a downstairs to tidy before the cleaners come.  Upstairs is neat and tidy, every bit, probably for the first time ever.  This afternoon I will probably R&R over my knitting and, maybe, a DVD.  The evening will be ironing.

Today's Christmas music is another Kendrick.  This time it's Candlesong from 'The Gift'.   It's very simple but surprisingly difficult to sing really well.


Thursday, 15 December 2016

Thursday

Morning, all.  Up at stupid o'clock (two hours ago) so today is going to be a long day.  I might even go back to bed in a little while, set the alarm and see if I can catch some shut-eye.

I know why.  The next cold has landed.  It is ridiculous - while teaching, together with many colleagues, I would go down with 'something' at the end of each half term.  Now I am a lady of retired leisure I don't think my body has caught up with reality yet.

Anyway, I hope I can catch some more sleep shortly.

Upstairs is now Christmas ready, more or less.  For the first time in ever I don't have to move clutter from the yellow room to my room while guests stay and then sleep in mess until I get round to moving it all back.  The bed in the yellow room is all made up for Alex on Sunday night and then I will remake it for John over Christmas.  In the blue room, one bed is made up for Beth on Sunday and the other is ready for Christmas.
There are a few bits and bobs that need moving into the garage but not many.  There are a couple of bags of rubbish that will have to hang around until after the collection today as my bin is currently full.
There's even some room for the sewing machines so they are not cluttering up the downstairs space over Christmas.

Downstairs also needs a bit of a declutter but nothing too much; most of the mess is superficial and will take very little time to sort.  Ditto for the kitchen.  It should all be nice and spick and span by the time the cleaners come for the pre-Christmas clean next week - an annual treat to myself.

It feels great!

Yesterday afternoon I went to Morrisons and spent a very happy hour watching and listening to the school choir.  Lots of coins were dropped into the buckets and there were some very appreciative comments from the shoppers.  I was so proud of them.

After tuition (second to last of this year - the last one is today), I set to and made some more fudge.  When I say 'set to', I mean loading Thermione and leaving her to work her magic for about 20 mins.  I'll make some more this morning and then see if I have enough for gift.

I'm also off into school this morning to help Y3 with their DT project.  Pasta salads, I gather, so I had better take an apron with me!

Then, normally, it's Y2 in the afternoon but my computer has decided to play silly devils and won't start so it is possible that the wonderfully brilliant Eddie can come round this afternoon to take a look and, fingers crossed, sort it out for me.
I am very glad that, when I lost access to my school laptop, I bought another laptop because that's what I am now using.

Later on I will be doing my last tuition session of this year.  Everything is planned, which is good.

Today's music is back to traditional.  It's the wonderful Willcocks version of 'Away in a Manger' sung by the choir of Kings College, Cambridge.  It's a wallow in nostalgia for me!




Now I have to decide - do I get going with some work or do I go back to bed?  Watch this space.






Wednesday, 14 December 2016

Wednesday

Woo hoo.  Nearly done with the yellow room and now just need to put certain stuff away.  The cupboard over the stairs wasn't as bad as I thought it would be and the bin is a bit full and a bit heavy but never mind.  This year, with collections on Thursday, we don't miss a week and the only change is that the collection between Christmas and New Year is on Friday.  Plenty of time to dump stuff in dribs and drabs.

One advantage I never anticipated - going through all my books has brought up a whole load that I would love to read again.  I'm very happy about that as, while I don't have a lot of reading time during the day, I dearly love to read in bed, both at night and in the morning.  I always was a bed reader and I thought I was fooling my parents.  Fat chance - they knew but chose to ignore it because they knew what I was like and there are a lot of worse things than reading in bed!

So - yesterday.  I did a lot in the yellow room as you may have gathered and the rest of the morning was spent baking snowflake biscuits for the class I hear read on Tuesday afternoons.  I gather they went down well, although I wasn't able to stay and see them enjoy them.  I have also sent them an interactive card so I hope they have fun with that too.

As for today, it is more preparations for Christmas this morning plus a bit of planning for my last tuition session of the year and then I am off to Morrisons, not to shop but to listen to the choir singing.  Now that I am governor with responsibility for the arts, I no longer need to feel slightly foolish at attending all these musical things.  It is now my bounden duty, isn't it?  😀

Should be a good day!

Today's Christmas music is a lovely song called 'In the first light' composed and performed by an acapella group called Glad.  I first 'met' Glad at one of the Spring Harvests I went to in the 1990s.  They did a slot in the Big Top (which I missed as I was at the alternative celebration) and got a most unusual standing ovation.  Afterwards the site was buzzing and they were so well received that they did a concert the next day, to which I went.  Absolutely stunning, especially in that atmosphere.

Now, I love choral and acapella singing (although I don't care for barbershop) and I think the voice is a great instrument.  It used to annoy me no end when the pastors used to call us 'the musicians and the singers' as if singers weren't musicians.  Grrrrr.

Back to Glad.  This is one of the songs they did then, although the clip is a lot more recent, and I have loved it ever since.  I hope you like it.



Tuesday, 13 December 2016

Tuesday

Good morning and welcome to another dull and slightly misty winter day.  I'm keeping the curtains drawn for a while to shut out the dullness.

Yesterday was busy but productive.   By nine thirty I had made three loaves, some fudge and some vegetarian stuffing patties.  I also managed to get on with the yellow room  and am getting there.  I still have to deal with the cupboard but I have a feeling that will be easier than what I have already done.  You never know, maybe, by the time I write my blog tomorrow, the room will be done and ready.  That would be good!

This morning I am at home and the afternoon is granny reading time.  All pretty normal really.

Today's Christmas music is a clever arrangement of 'The Angel Gabriel', sung by the Swingles.  I remember them from the 1960s with their versions of Bach classics, some of which we sang at school, and I didn't realise they were still around.  Not the original singers, of course, and they are now London based but still creating musical beauty.  There's a lot of clips on youtube.


Time for coffee and then up to the yellow room again!  I WILL get there!


Monday, 12 December 2016

Monday

Morning, everyone.  I got quite a lot done yesterday, especially knitting and sorting out all our craft stuff for putting away, after buying what I wanted for myself and others.  I was glad to get that done!  Something very nice is that we have sold a few more of our card kits.  One friend couldn't get to our stall on Friday night and another bought two and wished she had bought more because her children loved making their cards.

It's going to be a busier day today and I have taken a leaf out of Diane's book and made A List!

Mine says
Make bread
Yellow room
Washing
Carol service 1:30.  Take cards and stuff
Deliver bread
Get money?

That says it all really.
The bread is on and Thermionising (yes, I cheat!) and I am doing my usual early morning stuff before disappearing upstairs for a morning of hard work.

This afternoon is the school carol service.  The juniors all walk to St Andrews for this and the singing is fantastic.  I'm very much looking forward to it all.

Today's Christmas music is an old favourite.  Cornelius' 'Three Kings for Persian Lands Afar' with the accompanying chorale 'How Brightly Shines'.  I sang this at school more than once (just the alto in the chorale) and I love the contrast between the flowing  plainchant-y style melody with the chorale underpinning it.  I love harmony and never hankered after the more showy upper parts.  Even a seemingly 'boring' alto line can turn harmonies into something very special.


I hope you enjoy it too.

Sunday, 11 December 2016

Sunday

Good morning, everyone.
I think I'll start off with the music today.

I sang this lovely carol as an arrangement for ladies voices when I lived in London and sang with the Sydenham Singers, an adult education thingy that went independent when funding was cut.
We had a lot of fun and I missed it when  had to leave.
This rendering is very gentle, very rounded and with wonderful dynamics.  Kings, of course.

Yesterday was another gentle day.  I feel very rested at the moment.  Today Beth and Al are round and we will be sorting out the Fair stuff.  I've had some requests for card kits, which is nice, so we will get them together and I will take them on Monday.

That's about it really.  It's nice to have some peaceful times before the mad rush begins.

Saturday, 10 December 2016

Saturday

Good morning, gentle readers.

After a very dull start yesterday, we ended up having a bit of sunshine which was very pleasant, but in other ways the morning was a bit of a disaster really.  I locked Beth out of the house for long enough for her to become extremely worried and didn't hear because I was upstairs, hadn't yet put in my hearing aids and am really as deaf as a post without them.
I couldn't find the house key later on either.

These things are sent to try us, aren't they.

I found the key in the 'wrong' part of my bag and we have worked out how Beth can get into the house even when the front door chain is on.

Once all that had died down, we loaded up my car with all the stuff for our stall before Beth left.

At around four, we drove to school and set up our table(s).  It all looked nice but I forgot to take my camera, annoyingly, so no photos.  We sold enough to make it worth our while and divvied up as soon as we got home.  There's loads left over so that will have to go upstairs for next year, after I have taken my pick of what I want for this year!

Today is a quiet day (I sincerely hope).  I shall potter around, do some knitting, some housework, maybe a bit of ironing and generally have a peaceful time.

Today's Christmas music if from the pen of the great Graham Kendrick and is one I have never 'performed' but love very much.  It's the thoughtful 'Thorns in the Straw'.



Coffee time.

Friday, 9 December 2016

Friday

Good morning.  It's still quite dark so, I expect, it is another very dull and dismal day out there.  Still, I don't have to go out until early evening and no sun means I don't see the muck on the windows so much!

I enjoyed yesterday again.  If it wasn't so pleasant, all these enjoyable days would be boring and it probably is for you, my readers.  🙂

Yesterday evening, after tuition, I had a grand time on you tube, listening to all my old favourites from Christmasses in the past.

I think my absolute favourite of all time is Pearsall's version of In Dulci Jubilo which I met when I sang in the Madrigal Group/Chapel Choir at secondary school.

I like this clip especially because it has the music so I can sing along (when no-one is listening) and remember those times when I was my happiest at school - making music with like minded friends.
The choir is the incomparable Kings College choir.


And then, in contrast, a version that is far more the carol as it was usually performed, I expect, as a jolly dance.  Mike Oldfield's version.


Ah, nostalgia!


Today it's the Christmas Fair.  I'm looking forward to dealing with the piles of stuff in the living room and getting it all put away tomorrow.  It's been a long week for my ex-colleagues in the Infant department what with pantomimes, shows and the Fair tonight.  I expect they can't wait for the weekend and a bit of a rest.  I'm rather missing all the fun of the season - making cards and little gifts for family, special work sheets, tinsel everywhere, different things happening, but I am not missing the general exhaustion that sets in after a while.

It's time for another coffee so I will go.  Have an enjoyable day!

Thursday, 8 December 2016

Thursday

Well, what a lovely, interesting, happy day yesterday was!

It started when I wrote yesterday's entry at extremely stupid o'clock after which I felt the tiredness return so went back to bed, set the alarm and, thankfully, dropped back off to sleep again.  It was just as well because there wasn't much chance to snooze during the day and I would have been mortified to fall asleep in the governors' meeting.

It had been invited to the first performance of Whoops-a-Daisy Angel and it was gorgeous.  I felt Christmas had started.  I'm very fortunate to have been able to maintain close ties with the school I taught at for so long and to which I have became so attached.

A few minutes after I got home, Beth and Jane came round so that Beth could show off what we have made for the fair on Friday (and she sold a few bits too)!

I have taken to providing some home made yummies for the Governors so I set to and used my new cookie cutters and a simple 1,2,3 shortbread recipe to make some biscuits.  And that's where I came a bit of a cropper because the cutters were very hard to use and what came out was useless and had to be re-rolled.  I ended up looking on the Lakeland page at the reviews and, yes, lots of people had problems.  I read through all the comments and suggestions, made mental notes and tried again and this time my strategies worked and I ended up with some lovely looking snowflake biscuits that went down a treat at the meeting!

I also noted that people complained that they rusted quickly so after washing them, I popped them in the warm oven to dry thoroughly.  Fingers crossed, because I want to make some more on Monday for my dear little FS class that I hear read once a week.

Then it was tuition time and I had another lovely session.  I am so enjoying these tuition times.

After tea it was off to the governors' meeting where I took on a bit more responsibility as a Y3 link governor and I was also asked to take responsibility for my two favourite subjects, music and art, so I came home a very happy and satisfied bunny.

A very busy day and I slept extremely well - a great relief

Today I'm in school p.m., then it is tuition x 2 and that's it so housework will be done in between other stuff

Wednesday, 7 December 2016

Wednesday - very early

Ooops - I'm having a wide awake night.  I don't get them very often but I know there's no point fighting them when they do come so I am down and doing.  I know that at some point sleep will return and then I will go back to bed and finish the night off asleep!

I shall need to set the alarm clock off though as I have an appointment this morning - an appointment with the Infant Christmas Show!  They're doing 'Whoops-a-Daisy Angel' which is a particular favourite of mine and one I 'produced' a number of years ago now.  Because I'm seeing it today, I didn't stay with the dress rehearsal yesterday, just helped the littlies to get changed, did my shopping and helped them back into their uniform again afterwards, not that they needed much help - they are very independent!

While Beth was working on something yesterday morning, I finished off the last few bits and bobs for the stall on Friday.  I took our donation to the raffle so that's off the list, and discovered where our stall will be.  I think we are more or less ready now.

I'm very busy working on another nativity crib set for reasons I will explain after Christmas.  I was a bit cross with myself yesterday.  One of the main parts of one of the shepherds seemed to be rather large.  I know that double knitting can knit up differently, depending on the make, but it wasn't until I had finished it that I realised I'd been using chunky, not DK.  Doh!
All sorted now.

So - today, once I finish getting my sleep, is in school first thing and then back home for some serious housework.  Later on there's tuition and after that it is governors' meeting so that is the evening taken care of.  I treated myself to some nice snowflake cookie cutters on Monday so I might make some shortbread snowflakes for the meeting.

That's it for today so fingers crossed I get some more sleep soon or I will be falling asleep later on instead of housework!  Not a good idea, looking around at the chaos I call my living room!

Have a good day!

Tuesday, 6 December 2016

Tuesday

Yesterday's frost.

Hello, gentle readers.  It it a cold, foggy morning here but, thankfully, there is no frost: if there had been, driving conditions would have been pretty dangerous.  As it is, people just have to go carefully.

I got into town nice and early and there were plenty of parking slots.  When I got back to the car park, it was crowded and cars were queuing to get in - on a Monday!  That's Christmas for you!

I managed to do everything on my list and also found a nice Christmas present for someone which was extra but not unnecessary.  I noticed that, in one of the precincts, there is a new shop that sells 'wholefoods' so I took a look in there and bought a nice big bag of dried cranberries which I use a fair amount.  I visited Lakeland, of course, and am now stocked up with dried yeast and with red paper napkins for the Christmas buffets.  I shall use real ones for The Dinner itself.

Once home, I pottered, tidied, sorted, knitted, ironed and generally kept busy.  It was a pleasant day.

Today, I started off well by not getting up until after seven.  That means a bit of a rush shortly but nothing too bad (or I wouldn't be writing this now).
Beth comes over after dropping Al off and while she works on a Christmas present for someone, I shall finish off the last dribs and drabs of School Fair stuff.  Then I am off to school pm, not to do reading but to help the littlies get into their costumes for their dress rehearsal.  I won't be watching the rehearsal so I shall pop over the road and do the week's shopping before going back to help then get into their ordinary clothes again.  Hopefully, I shall be a very helpful extra pair of hands.

So - a busy day but a pleasant one!

Monday, 5 December 2016

Monday

Good morning!  Another very frosty and slightly misty morning here in the South/East and I'm not looking forward to popping into town this morning, although I must!

While Beth was round yesterday, we got everything down and sorted for our stall on Friday.  It's quite a nice array of stuff this year and, if I have time, I will take a few photos when it is all set up.

My Christmas bedding arrived yesterday.  It's lovely - well, bright and Christmassy tartan and lovely and soft.  It's been washed so today I shall iron it and air it and then it will be ready for putting on the bed on Christmas Eve.   Silly, really, isn't it?

I made some bread yesterday but then got into sorting out our stall things and forgot that there were two loaves proving, so they were rather over risen with great bubbles on the top.  Not something I can give to my 'customer' although fine for me, so I will be making another batch today, when I have picked up some yeast.  I am now totally out of yeast which is an oversight on my part.

Once home after shopping and doughing, it's Yellow room with a timer to remind me of the bread.

And that's about it today!

Have a good one!

Sunday, 4 December 2016

Sunday

Well, it's a real cold and frosty morning this morning, very pretty indeed.




However, I shall have to spend some time in the garden this week as many of the plants have now been frost damaged and need dealing with.

Yesterday I discovered two manky bananas so I made a couple of banana loaves, one for now and one for the freezer for Christmas.  I will probably drizzle icing over the Christmas one to make it look more 'festive' - I wonder if you can get edible glitter to add to icing - must take a look around!
Here's the one that's already been attacked.  It is simple but delicious.


I enjoyed watching Strictly last night - they are all getting so, so good now.  I reckon it's Judge Rinder's turn to go - he doesn't have the polish of the others.  What do you think?

Today, Beth and Al are coming over for lunch and after lunch Beth and I will be sorting out all our 'stock' for the school Christmas Fair on Friday.  Yes, it is that time of year again and we have plenty of merry, festive stuff to sell.  Fingers crossed!

Have a lovely Sunday and stay warm!


Saturday, 3 December 2016

Saturday

Good morning, gentle readers, and welcome to Saturday.  It's damp and chilly outside but not icy, thank goodness.  Maybe it will brighten up as the sun rises - the weather forecast looks quite optimistic anyway.

Thankfully, the house is now nice and clean after the ministrations of the cleaners yesterday.  I'm not expected to help: indeed, any help would not be welcome as they have their methods and bring their own equipment but, even so, I always feel guilty!  Yesterday was worse.  Usually it's two cleaners and one hour but yesterday it was one cleaner and two hours.  Extended guilt!  😀

I was so naughty - I saw an advert for a lovely tartan bedding set.  So Christmassy and brushed cotton which I love as it takes me right back to childhood.  You can guess the rest, can't you.  No, I don't need it.

After the cleaner had gone, I managed to get the remaining piles of books into school for the Christmas Fair.  I'm pleased, although it caused more than a few pangs to leave them there.  How ridiculous can one get.  After all, I never, ever look at them or use them, they just sat on the shelves gathering dust!

What I didn't do is any yellow room clearing so that's top of the list today.

What's on your list today?

Friday, 2 December 2016

Friday

Nearly the end of the week.  It seems to have been a very busy week one way and another and yesterday fitted into 'busy' really well.

The big announcement is that I finished the nativity crib set AND delivered it.  The recipient was very pleased, thank goodness.
Here it is . . .

Cute, isn't it?

As I was going into school, I took the opportunity to drop off some more of the huge pile of books I have sorted out.  It's the school fair next week so, hopefully, they will make some cash for the school.

I sorted out my bedroom curtains.  To recap, when my room was decorated last week they had to come down, of course, and they were filthy.  This week I washed them and the linings more or less disintegrated to the extent that I really couldn't put them up again.  I had to move back into my bedroom on Wednesday as Al was staying overnight so I safety pinned a blanket to the curtain rail as an emergency measure!

Yesterday I took off the tattered linings (cutting them across the top, to save having to unpick and re-sew the tape) and re-stitched the side seams.  They are now up again and looking fine from the inside although not so wonderful from the outside, I am sure.  At least it is usually dark before I draw them.

Now I am wondering whether it is worth making new, detachable linings for them.  It might be, as I think they will look pretty nice in the smallest spare room and there's nothing wrong with the curtains themselves apart from a bit of fading.  Ah, well, I have time to make any decision as the new curtains won't arrive until mid to end of January.

Today, first of all I have a downstairs to tidy as the cleaners are coming today and I like to give them a clear run, so to speak.  I also want to get back into school to drop off more books.  Then I think I will focus on the yellow room again.  I haven't touched it this week, what with being away and other stuff, but there's only three weeks to go before I want it sparkling and tidy so I need to get my act together again.

I also have some knitting to get on with

I think it should be another busy day today but nice-busy not exhaustingly-busy.

Have a good one yourself!




Thursday, 1 December 2016

Thursday

Phew - what a day yesterday was.  All go from start to finish but I got there - eventually.

The bread was made by 9:00 am and then I totally forgot to get it to school.

There were problems with the tax stuff - access problems, not money problems.  So it's a case of try again tomorrow!

I've finished the nativity crib set and very cute it looks too, apart from the little sheep.  I had a struggle with the little sheep!  I shall take it in to the person I made it for this morning.  Photos have been taken!

I thought the governors meeting was 7:30, got an email reminding us that it was 6:30, emailed back to grovel and say I'd be late, changed something to fit it in,  then got another email to say it was indeed 7:30.  Doh!!!
My trouble is, I always assume that I am wrong and the other person is right.

Picked Al up from school and took him home, then picked him up again later and he stayed here overnight.  He's still fast asleep now, as are most sensible people who do not have to be awake.

Tuition went really well.  It's all flowing nicely now and I can see progress with all my pupils, which is encouraging.

Governors committee meeting was interesting - and I seem to have been voted in as vice chair of this particular committee.  It was worrying to see that the date of the next meeting was 1-1-17 until it was corrected to 1-3-17, amid general laughter.

Today looks like being a whole lot easier.  I'm not wanted in school this afternoon because there's a show rehearsal.  This morning is blank apart from getting Al to school and getting a loaf and a nativity set to school.  Park of tuition is attending a meeting.  Everything else is planned and prepared.

I have to do it take off the extremely damaged curtain linings and do a quick hemming job round the sides and bottom.  Then I can replace the blanket that covered my bedroom window overnight with unlined curtains.  I also have washing (drying and ironing) to do so here's hoping for a good day!  It's rather cold right now!

I hope your day goes well.