Monday 31 January 2011

Monday evening

The course was very good. The speaker was charismatic, funny, interesting - all of which created a great atmosphere and a very receptive audience.

However, now I'm several steps back from it all I wonder quite what is different from the way we do things already most of the time. It will be interesting to hear the reflective comments from my colleagues tomorrow. And also what extra work we will have to undertake as an outcome.

I wonder . . .

Monday morning

. . . and it's a non-pupil day today. All of us, TAs, LSAs, teachers, are off to the Waterfront (a local conferencing centre) for a day's training and 'networking' with staff from other local schools. The subject is 'Behaviour for Learning': there's some stuff on the Internet about it and it looks as if it's going to be both interesting and useful.

It's going to be a funny old week, in fact. Tomorrow is PPA and then coordinator time, Wednesday is the last half hour of PPA ( plus Makaton training after school) and on Thursday I am out in the morning on another training thing. Friday is my SEN day. And that's the week gone again.

Also I have a very dear friend coming tomorrow to stay for a couple of nights. It's a shame I have to be at school, but it will be fantastic to see her in the evenings.

Well, I'd better get going. We're car sharing today and I have to be round at Tina's at half past eight!

Sunday 30 January 2011

Sunday evening and a link to a great recipe

I made just about the most delicious loaf of soda bread I've ever made this afternoon. It is the recipe that was on Baking Made Easy a couple of weeks ago and it's scrummy. Here's the link:

The only thing I did extra was this: I'm sure I remember that she had some water in the oven to keep the baking environment steamy, so I did the same - actually she tossed some ice cubes into a baking tray at the bottom, I think, but I just poured in some boiling water. It's not mentioned on the recipe.

It made a huge loaf - DD, DG and I had half of it for tea and the other half is in two quarters now and in the freezer. DD was supposed to take one chunk home with her but she left it behind.

Definitely I will be making this again, starting in a fortnight when the family again descends on Chelmsford for a family lunch. I might make it a bread, ham and cheese buffet this time! A sort of posh ploughman's. Soda bread, 'artisan' oaty bread, cheesy scones - mmmmmm, it does sound good and not too tricky either.

EDIT: I wuz rong! The ice cubes/steam thingy was for the Grant loaf (another wonderful bread to add to my list for the buffet) but it worked so very well I will continue to do it when I make soda bread.

Sunday afternoon and a recipe

The lentil and cheese wedge is absolutely gorgeous so here is what I did.

8oz red lentils (must be red - OK, orange - as they need to cook to a mush)
375 plus mls stock (I bunged in a good spoonful of Marigold low sodium bouillon and then added water as needed, starting off with 375 mls. I found it required more . . .
One finely chopped onion, softened in a little oil or butter. I did this, but I reckon you could cook the chopped onions with the lentils in the stock and pass on the oil.
4oz extra strong mature cheddar, grated
1 beaten egg
seasonings. I used vegetarian friendly Worcestershire sauce, a dollop of Dijon mustard, some tabasco and some black pepper. Check before adding any salt as I find even the low sodium powder is salty enough for me now that I've stopped cooking my vegetables in salt, etc. But you could add anything you fancied really. I think curry would be tasty, or herbs.

Preheat the oven to 180C
Wash and pick over the lentils, then place in a saucepan with the stock powder and 375mls water and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer, stirring frequently, until the lentils are fairly soft and the water has been absorbed. Add more water if necessary.
At the same time, cook the chopped onion in a little oil or butter until softening. Or, as I said, cook them with the lentils and save the oil and a messy pan!
Stir the onions into the lentil mixture and allow to cook for a short time.
Then stir in the cheese and seasonings and taste, adjusting seasonings to taste.
Finally, add the beaten egg and mix very well.
Pour the lot into a lightly oiled quiche type dish (mine has a loose bottom) and bake for about 35 mins until firm.
The recipe says to serve six.

I've made it and had a slice (I cut it into eight so the slices are small) - well, I had to, didn't I? It's delicious!

It's vegetarian but not vegan. It could be jazzed up with some cooked meat - ham, bacon, chicken or whatever.

Sunday morning

Oh, my poor head! I did totally the wrong thing and went to bed without a few rehydrating glasses of water and a couple of paracetamols. Now I'm paying for it!! I'm on my third glass of water, my second coffee and the tablets are working their usual magic - and I only have me to blame!

It was a lovely evening despite me dropping and smashing a serving dish with one of the Chinese selections in it. You see, I had been very good and warmed up serving dishes in the oven and just as well too because the food came in those useful plastic containers and there's no way I could have put them on the table top warmers. Just a shame about the chicken whatever-it-was and my dish. As those dishes are so useful (I got a load on ebay and they are pretty fragile - and cheap!) and as I have a Nisbets catalogue, I may very well order a supply of similar and store them away for future use.

I do like to serve my food in dishes rather than bunging it straight on a plate. Maybe that sounds silly and certainly it makes more washing up, but it's all part of the meal 'experience'. Those little dishes are just the thing and I would be sorry not to have them.

I had a productive day yesterday. I made another load of five minute dough which is now sitting in the fridge. I think I will try freezing some of this in small portions and see how it behaves after thawing. It would be jolly useful, if it works.

I also made a chicken recipe I found on the wonderful 'Cottage Smallholder' site: chicken with apricots and garlic. So easy and quite delicious, although I think I would use less garlic next time. I made four portions and they will all go in the freezer with a mental note not to eat it before anything important!!

On WLR I found a recipe for 'cheese and lentil wedge' and I want to make that today: I did think about making it yesterday but didn't really have the time. It's an old Slimming World recipe, apparently; if it's OK I will try to pin it down or post my version of it in here (and if it's not, I won't!). One of my LSAs gave me a recipe for flapjacks and I'd like to make them today too. Dead easy and delicious. All for the freezer!

There's very little to clear up this morning. The dishes will all fit in the dishwasher, the tablecloths will go in the machine, downstairs is tidy anyway and, unusually, I have an early morning with nothing to do. The original plan was to go swimming but it would be highly illegal for me to drive just now, I must still be over the limit (or close to it), so I will go later, perhaps over lunch time when there's not so many there. It's pot roast for dinner today so that will just keep warm and be ready when I get back.

Well, better go and get another glass of water and make another coffee after which I will see if I can get some more shut-eye. I'm decidedly bleary eyed and seem to be going down with the first cold of the year. Sneezes, snuffles and a sore throat.

See you later!

Saturday evening, very late, probably Sunday morning, in reality

. . . and the Witches of Pickwick have had a wonderful evening together. I'm typing very carefully and editing very specifically because I am tanked up with delicious Chinese and white wine.

We have agreed that the next one will be next month and will be a 'bring a low calorie thingy' event. Sounds good to me!

I am so glad that my social life seems to be picking up.

Saturday 29 January 2011

Saturday evening

In the local poaper this week there was some exciting news. Exciting, that is, to those of us who like shopping. We're getting a John Lewis in Chelmsford. Yippeee. Not only that. but Waitrose are looking for a site too. They must be kicking themselves: we used to have a Waitrose, but they pulled out and Wilkinsons took over the site. Now they want to get back in again.

I do love John Lewis. I always get my deep fitted sheets from them, mail order. I will be able to get them direct from the shop! Excellent!

Saturday morning

So here we are at the start of another weekend. I do love the feeling when I wake up on Saturday morning and remember I don't have to get up! I do get up, of course, I'm not a lie-in-bed sort of person nowadays, but the important thing is that I don't *have* to! Of course, s*d's law dictates that because I wanted a good night's sleep (late night tonight) I tossed and turned, kept waking up and woke up bright and breezy at the usual time! Goodness knows why - a warm, comfy bed with clean bedding usually gives me a great sleep! Never mind, if I get all the chores done this morning I can have a snooze this afternoon.

I changed my mind about the bread - I will shape it, etc while it's still cold and then leave it to warm and rise gently while I'm out swimming and food shopping. When I get home I should be able to turn on the oven and pop it in to bake as soon as it's hot enough. I rather fancy making some soda bread tomorrow (for tea) so I must look out for buttermilk in Sainsbury's.

When I get home I need to set to and get the place into shape again for this evening. It's not awful, but it's messy and, of course, needs a good dust and sweep. I've just written 'flowers' on my shopping list. I don't usually but we've just been paid so I think I might treat myself to some. And perhaps I will be able to get the guest room ready too; then I won't have an awful lot to do tomorrow.

Better get going, I suppose. Make breakfast and unload the dishwasher . . .

Friday 28 January 2011

Friday evening

Yes, it was a good day with no interruptions. I got a lot done, one way and another, although some things do seem to take so very long. It's stayed bitterly cold all day and, for once, it was cold inside school too. My fingers felt cold all day long, despite typing madly away for much of the time.

And now it's the weekend (again). It promises to be a lovely weekend with the Witches of Pickwick get together tomorrow evening (diet disaster but SUCH good fun) and DD and DG around on Sunday. I have to get the house sorted out, partly because I can't let my neighbours see the current mess and partly because I have a dear friend and her daughter coming to stay for three days next week. I'm so looking forward to seeing them again, you can't imagine how much! I want it to be all spick, span and cosy for them. I popped into Matalan before swimming again and got some more of those lovely pillows, so they will be 'christened' in the guest room next week! :0)

The other thing I intend to do is use up that dough that's been sitting in the fridge for a week. I wonder if it will work OK - it certainly looks OK and it smells healthily yeasty and bready. I'll get it out to warm up before I go swimming and food shopping early tomorrow morning and will do the shaping and so on when I get home. Fingers crossed!!

Friday morning

SEN day today and it's chock-a-block full of stuff to do. Last week a whole load of time was taken up with 'stuff': I sincerely hope I get a clear run at it this week!

Apart from that, life plods on normally. Swimming again this evening and then home for an early night and no alarm clock, not that the alarm usually wakes me anyway but the ritual turning off before the light goes out is good for the soul! :0)

Have a great day!

Thursday 27 January 2011

Thursday evening

Oh, boy, it was cold in games this morning. With my extra insulation I don't normally feel the cold but it was a bit much today. Trying to snow too, just a few very fine bits of white stuff, not enough for the children to notice (thank goodness).
However, MoE more than made up for the cold. It went great and managed to last the whole day and at the end the Pig (aka Karen) turned up to see what they had planned and they just went with the flow like seasoned Mantlers!

For Creativity Club, I decided to do paper plate masks and they did brilliantly with some super creations. They worked jolly hard on them too! I shall repeat the activity with the other half of the children who wanted to attend, after half term - it's nice to know you've got something that really works

And now, after swimming (where I met an ex-pupil and had a good natter with her mum in the hot spa) I'm again worn out and ready for sleepy-byes.
'Night, everyone!

Thursday morning

. . . and it's cold and dry outside. That's both bad and good because Thursday is outside games day, of course, and I'll have to keep them moving to keep them warm. I'm not sure bat and ball skills is going to keep them moving that much. I must remember to take my gloves and scarf this morning, or I will get colder than they will!

It's still MoE today. By the time I'd factored in all the other stuff yesterday, we only had about forty minutes of it yesterday. It must finish today because I'm not going to expect my SEN supply to pick it all up. Apart from anything else, I don't think she's ever had Mantle training. Yesterday was great. They were very excited by the letter from the wolf and set to in their teams with great gusto! Today is about making models and will be great!

After school it's my turn to do Creativity Club and I'm torn between pop up pictures and masks. Decisions, decisions!! They'd enjoy either, both need a little preparation . . . oh, I'll decide when I get to school!!!

Wednesday 26 January 2011

Wednesday evening

What *is* happening to me?

Staff meeting finished early - very much earlier than anticipated. I was well pleased and you know why - the main reason why anyway? I had time to go swimming. So I did!

But this isn't me. I'm getting worried. Me, liking exercise? Weird! Good but - well, just weird!

Wednesday morning

Apologies for the lack of posting last night. I was so tired I didn't open my blog at all and was asleep by about 8:30. Very nice too and I'm lucky to be able to suit myself most of the time where that sort of thing is concerned.

There's no doubt about it, those new pillows I bought so impulsively on Sunday are lovely - so comfortable and supportive. Not at all brick like and yet they hold their shape very well. It will be good to be able to throw out some manky old ones now that are well over their best and rolling fast down the other side of the hill. In fact, I might even pop in again and see if they have any more in (they were half price).

One of the best things about MoE (well, one of the most helpful things anyway) is the lack of marking. It's a whole load of hard work in the classroom, but when it comes to marking and preparation of resources, it's pretty thin on the ground. No complaints from me. The children took to it reasonably well, although they found the whole concept of being a planning company quite hard to grasp and when designing our logo, I had several MacDonald 'M's presented proudly to me! Ooops, which reminds me, I need to scan and save the finally chosen logo which I thought was quite cute and, to my delight, worked out by my Little Pickle, who was really chuffed!

After school yesterday I realised that I'm not going to be able to finish this project today. We had already factored in Reading Revelry and Phonics, which are not negotiable, but this afternoon my class has Library (in the branch library which shares the same roof as the school) and then it's my PPA. Add to this Family Assembly and that's an awful lot of the day taken up with things I can't get out of. Oh, well . . . that's life! Maybe it's a good thing for the first time of doing MoE. Short bursts rather than a whole day is probably the way to go with littlies.

Better start getting ready, I suppose.

Tuesday 25 January 2011

Tuesday morning

Did I stay awake for those telly programmes last night? No, I didn't. By half way through Baking Made Easy my eyes kept closing, so I gave up the somewhat unequal battle and went to bed. It's not a problem, they will be repeated again and again and again and . . . I can always watch it on iPlayer!

Those new pillows were a dream and I slept extremely well, waking just once for a wander down the landing. Soft but very supportive. Good-oh!

Today it is PPA and coordinator time. As a result, we are leaving our supplies to start Mantle of the Expert (MoE) with our classes, which will be establishing the 'company' designing logo, 'mission statement', departments, etc, etc, etc, with a bit of role play thrown in for good measure - well, it's all drama one way or another, but some times more than others.
This afternoon the letter arrives . . .!

After school it's dance exercise so, whatever goes wrong with all this, I can dance and exercise it off! No swimming, of course, there isn't time for both.

Should be a good day.

Monday 24 January 2011

Monday evening

Right now I'm realising that re-starting swimming is likely to be expensive. The reason? Matalan is very close by! This evening it was a pair of pillows and a quilt cover and pillow cases. Did I need them - well, sort of. I needed new pillows anyway! I fear the bedding just jumped up, grabbed me by the neck and refused to let go! Oh, and it was half price and it's so pretty! I think I'm going to have to set a target relating to NOT going into Matalan when I go swimming!

As I anticipated, the course was very good, but made me feel highly inadequate. I don't know/do half of what they said I ought, so I have my work cut out, starrting tomorrow with a bit of personal observation after play in my coordinator's hour.

Now I need to stay awake for Baking Made Easy and then The Biggest Loser. What's the betting I won't! :0)

Monday morning

Back to school again. This week will be an odd week because for two days Lara and I are doing 'Mantle of the Expert' with the Y1 children. It's a role-play/drama approach to learning and, in small doses, can be very effective. We're starting from the end of the three little pigs, with a penitent wolf wanting to make amends for upsetting the pigs and destroying their houses. The pigs need a new house because three of them in one little house is not possible long term. As it happens, we are a house design company and the wolf writes to us to ask if we could plan a really good home for the pigs . . .

I'm out on a course this afternoon, so we will start it tomorrow and it should run for a couple of days, perhaps a little bit longer. Part of me is looking forward to it and part is nervous. It's a very open ended approach and won't suit all the children, but it's likely to reach those for whom a more formal approach doesn't suit, so it's swings and roundabouts, as with all teaching where many children are involved.

The course is the second on managing the Early Years and ought to be interesting, if the first one is anything to go by. When it has finished, I will whizz back to Chelmsford and head straight for the pool for an unwinding swim before getting home.

Nice day!

Sunday 23 January 2011

Sunday evening: five minute bread

Holland and Barrett didn't have unbleached plain flour so I had to make do with a mixture of ordinary white and strong white and hope that I got the protein more or less OK. It did make a very gooey dough but the small free-form loaf I made from dome of it was jolly nice. A very open texture and a wonderful flavour. Given the the only ingredients were water, salt, yeast and flour, I was amazed. And the rest is sitting in the fridge for other times.

I couldn't believe how easy it was. It literally took two minutes to weight out the ingredients and mix it all together and that was it. No kneading needed!

Very interesting . . .

Sunday morning

Well, yesterday was a good day for various reasons. Lovely swim, successful shop, got some housework done, stuck to the food plans, George came and did some gardening for me . . . all combined to make a satisfying day.

Today should be as good. Swimming, sorting out some messy corners, DD and DG coming round and trying out a new recipe.

Yesterday, in Sainsbury's, a book caught my eye. It was entitled 'Five Minute Bread', intriguing enough to make me stop, pick it up and spent the next five minutes looking through it before popping it into my trolley. The financial conscience pricked a bit but was calmed by the thought that I won't be paying any rates or water rates in the next two months!

You can read a couple of reviews here, on Amazon. I would have started it yesterday but don't have any unbleached plain flour in the house (funny, that, eh?) so will pop into town after swimming to get some from Holland and Barrett (fingers crossed that they have some). The idea is that you mix up this bread dough with more or less the usual ingredients, but it is a very wet dough. It rests for a couple of hours and then it is covered (but not air tight) and stored in the fridge for up to two weeks.
When you want a loaf, you cut off a chunk, mould it, let it rise for a short time and bake it. That's it, no kneading, rising, knocking back, proving, etc. I though it was worth a look at, the reviews are good, they say it tastes like 'artisan' bread (i.e. delicious!) and, from what I have seen, the dough freezes, which would be helpful. There's a book full of variations, some of which look very good indeed and, remembering the cost of those artisan breads on the stall in town last week, this would be a real saver. Anyway, I'm going to give it a go and see: if it 'works' and it is something of which I'd want to do more , I might look out for a pizza stone, which is ideally what you cook your loaves on.

Wish me luck.

Saturday 22 January 2011

Saturday lunchtime

Home again now after a most enjoyable shop and a great swim. The pool was pretty empty so I was able to zoom up and down - oh, OK, paddle up and down then - to my heart's content for forty minutes or so before a five minute dip in the hot spa.

I found some tops that will do, I bought some spotty socks because they're bright and bad taste and I bought two recipe books (shame on me) which I look forward to reading over the next month or so in short bursts. And I have all the food I need for the next week so no excuses whatsoever.

Nice day so far!

Saturday morning

Last night was lovely. There were seven of us and we all piled into Prezzo, in the centre of Chelmsford and were given a circular table. I love circular tables, it makes hearing the others so much easier for an old deffie like me. It was rather noisy but I managed to hear an awful lot more than I was expecting so three cheers to the new hearing aids. In fact yesterday was wonderful. Without the loud reverberations I have been getting nearly all the time, a slight headache I didn't quite realise I have had has lifted and I feel so much better.

Diane, you will be ashamed of me. I skipped a starter (and I'm glad I did, they were big) and went for one of the 'Light choices' for a main - a flatbread pizza with a salad. Boring, I know, but that's what I fancied and very nice it was too, leaving me satisfied but not stuffed. I treated myself (or rather they treated me to) to a campari and tonic, just about my fave drink along with nice chilled dry white and bubby, and then stuck to diet coke. And although I did have a slight hankering after the chicken ravioli some of the others were having, it was only slight and I thoroughly enjoyed my 'light' choice. Mind you, 'Light' is extremely comparative - they were guaranteed to be under 650 calories. That ain't light in my book, but I suppose, compared to the other choices, it was!

OK, so, what about today? I am going swimming early, before the Aqua class and when the pool starts to build up for aqua, I will get out, dry off, etc and go to Sainsburys to do my weekly shop. I did something rather silly last week. Three of my tops had some splashes of oil (bad me not wearing an apron when cooking) so I sprayed them with vanish stuff but then failed to put them straight in the wash. As a result, when they were washed, colour had come out from where they were sprayed and they are ruined. I had to chuck another one too, because it was falling off me! So I need to replace them and Sainsburys is my best bet, I reckon. It's only T shirts, so it won't be extensive and, hopefully, they will have some in.
Something else I was dead chuffed about. A couple of years ago I ordered some shoes from Hotter on a BOGOF. However, silly me, I forgot to order the EE fitting so, when they came, I couldn't actually get them on. I should have sent them straight back but I didn't get round to it for so long that it was too late and they've been languishing in the bedroom ever since.
Last night I was looking for my 'best' shoes. I don't actually have anything posh but these are shoes I don't wear for school which makes them 'best'. I couldn't find one of them but, while searching, found these two pairs of shoes that I couldn't get on. And you know what - they slid on as easily as the glass slipper onto Cinderella's foot. Boy, was I pleased!! I don't have a Marcos attitude to shoes in the least but even I was thinking that I ought to have a few more pairs. Now I do! I just have to find that missing shoe.

Oh, well, better go and make my scrambled eggs, pack my swimming bag and unload the dishwasher!

Friday 21 January 2011

Friday evening

When I'm out of class for my SEN time, there are times when I have to deal with playground issues (because I'm there and 'free')

Today I had a huddle of year two boys in from afternoon play to find out how J had hurt his leg and why they were all piled on top of him.

Me: Tell me what happened M.
M. Well, I 'it him.
Me: You did what?
M: I 'it him and then . . .
Me: Why did you hit him?
M: I didn't hit him I 'it him.
Me: Yes, that's what I said. Why?
M: No, I didn't hit him, I 'it him - we were playing 'it' and I 'it' him!!!
Me. Doh!!!


Friday morning

SEN day again today - they do come around so very quickly! A busy day today with a very important meeting first thing, working with some children after play and gathering resources for physical development in the afternoon. Busy but interesting.

And this evening I get a Christmas present. Our long-suffering TAs/LSAs are taking Lara and me out for a meal, to an Italian place in town and I'm so looking forward to it. It should be great fun and I don't have to drive! I've looked at the menus online and, my goodness, it all looks totally scrummy and not particularly 'healthy', but, dear me, I can always go swimming tomorrow and earn back a few calories anyway! Tonight is for fun.

Thursday 20 January 2011

Thursday evening

. . . and I notice I am on 7,777 views. Nice one!

The weather cheered up and the day was fine. We got out for games and the sun shone. This afternoon we had what I thought was a jolly successful science investigation. It cheers me up no end when lessons go well - or when I think they go well!

After school, I had an appointment with my hearing aid chappie. I was supposed to go about three weeks ago but couldn't and this was the re-appointment. Some of my gentle readers may remember that just before Christmas I took possession of some new hearing aids. Getting used to them hasn't been entirely trouble free. They fit perfectly well and are jolly comfortable, the volume is loud enough but most of the time there was a vibration sort of effect on most vowels, both from others and also from my own speech. At first I thought it might be because they were new, my brain had to adjust, etc, but it got no better, and was actually interfering with me hearing what others were saying, it was so distracting, not to mention utterly distorting any singing/music - and one does a lot of singing as an infant teacher. So today the audiologist connected me up to the computer (well, the aids anyway, which were still in my ears) and made a few adjustments, after phoning the company who made the aids. The result was instantly miraculous - no now sound distortion. A huge relief for me. Now we will see how it goes in the classroom tomorrow. And it seems I have an 'unusual' hearing profile! I call it plain awkward myself! :0)

Then I went swimming. It was a jolly nice swim. The pool was pretty empty, just a few 'serious' swimmers splashing up and down and, with a costume that fitted properly, I was able to go for it a bit more and felt I had a good 30 minute workout. Afterwards, the hot spa really was hot - gorgeous.

So I do feel better this evening, thank goodness. It's a great relief.

Thursday morning

And here we are again, another new day, jolly cold and damp, so will we get our outdoor games lesson today or will we use the hall? That, thankfully, is probably the biggest decision we will have to make today. Phew.

I'm going to try to MAKE myself go swimming after I've seen the hearing aid chap after school. I need the exercise after yesterday and it is likely to get me back on track - or help to anyway.
Fingers crossed!

Wednesday 19 January 2011

Wednesday evening

It's not been a bad day. It's been OK really, no big issues or hassles.
So why do I feel I've lost my way all of a sudden? Why do I feel useless and an utter failure?
No idea, but I sincerely hope it passes by - and quick! I haven't got room in my life for doom, gloom and misery right now. It has to take its place in the queue.

Sometimes life just makes one feel like yoyo, doesn't it, or a merry go round . . .
Remember 'Puppet on a String'?

Life is just like a merry-go-round
With all the fun of the fair
One day I'm feeling down on the ground
Then I'm up in the air . . .

Roll on 'then', whenever that may be. And apologies for the self indulgent blog.

Wednesday morning

Yesterday morning I was out of class and, my goodness, it was a busy time. First it was PPA with L and we got our Mantle work planned for next week, more or less. We also managed to tidy up the role play area, which was looking as if a bomb had hit it. The main problem was that all our new tables had arrived - all seventy whatever of them, and they had to be stacked in the hall, there being no-where else to put them. That meant no dance lesson and no assembly, so Faith and I had to put together about another hour's worth of lessons for her to deliver. Combined with that, imagine, if you can, the disruption cause by old tables disappearing out of one door of the bay and new tables coming in through the other entrance and you will understand that my colleagues in the Infants had rather a complicated morning. But we have our new tables - and my goodness they are lovely! The children love them and they lift the look of the classroom considerably. Fantastic!

I'm with my class for most of the day. Reading revelry, phonics, literacy, ICT, theme and story. I just have the other half an hour of PPA in the afternoon and that's devoted to marking and assessing their writing.
After school it's staff meeting - not too long, I hope.

So that's my day. It should be a good one - I hope yours is too.

Tuesday 18 January 2011

Tuesday evening

. . . and on with the tag questions.

Four things I have learnt from the past
Holding on to hate damages me much more than it damages anyone else. It curdles me inside and destroys the person I am and the person I would like to be.
Rule a line and move on, whether it be food, work or anything else. No point looking back in regret. Learn from the past but don't let it dominate me.
Food is a good servant but a bad master.
Wisdom can be found in every person, young or old.

Four things I am looking forward to.
Staying in Streele Farm Barn next summer
Losing most of the excess weight
Swimming on Thursday (hopefully)

Four things I love about winter
Snuggling down in a warm bed
Walking through a crisp, frosty landscape
Christmas! Always winter but never Christmas sounds the worst kind of nightmare . . .

Tuesday morning

. . . and I've been tagged by Rachel at Rachel's Delicious Journey! Sounds painful, doesn't it? :0) It's all about four so here we go!

Four TV shows I watch:
Hard one because I hardly ever watch anything consistently. At the moment I tend to watch (if the telly is on)
Baking made easy On Monday evenings and there's a couple of recipes on there already I want to make, basic flapjacks being one of them)
The Biggest Loser (UK) I have a sort of horrid fascination for this one.
Dancing on Ice. I'm a bit on and off with this one but maybe I will get into it as it progresses. I prefer Strictly really and did watch that every week.
The last is a bit of a cheat but I kind of connect them in my mind. Pointless and Eggheads. Two fairly gentle quiz programmes shown early evenings. I sometimes do some step while they are on.
The programmes I want to watch and turn the telly on for are not showing right now - Doctor Who and Merlin, for example. What does that say about me, I wonder (no need to answer that, thank you!)?

Four things I am passionate about
It's funny the way 'passionate' has changed meaning over the last decade or so. It used to mean physical passion and, to oldie me, its modern use sometimes jars. I suppose it means things that I'm really very interested in and devote time and energy to developing.
I would have to say the first is my family. I count them as best friends and family relationships is the most important thing in my life.
Next is teaching. It's the best, a great job, always interesting, often frustrating and terribly exhausting at times, but there's nothing like it!
I really enjoy reading about and looking up new recipes, especially those that use basic, everyday ingredients and put a new twist on things. I don;t have much time for those that require special, hard-to-find, expensive ingredients that are going to be used once and then wasted.
I've always enjoyed craft activities. Whether it be card making, knitting, crochet, cross stitch, origami . . . I can't think of a time in my life when I didn't have something either being planned or being made. At present I'm crocheting a beanie hat (I think that's what it's called) in pink, lilac and blue.

Four words/phrases I use a lot
LOL - the first one has to be shhhhhhh My children hear that quite a lot!
Sorry? comes a close second. It goes with being hard of hearing and missing what people say.
After that I really don't know. I suppose have a go first and then we'll talk about it comes very high on the list. There are certain little people who hear it quite a lot.
Oh dear, I can *still* hear someone talking has to come quite high on the list. No comment needed
See, all teaching talk. Spending all day at school and living on my own makes this inevitable, I suppose!

There are three more but I reckon I've rabbited on enough for now - I'll try to remember to finish this off this evening.

Monday 17 January 2011

Monday evening

It was a shame about the weather today. The children were lovely but being stuck in all morning and over lunch time is not good for them and by the afternoon some were a bit fretful. Never mind, it could have been a lot worse - at least they got out to play this afternoon.

Swimming was great. All the old, too-big cossies have now been ditched (into the clothes recycling bag) and I have a couple of new ones (cheap, from Matalan, of course) to replace them. What a difference it made. I was able to swim properly without worrying about what was happening below the water line and I feel thoroughly exercised and 'glowy'. The big question now is can I stay awake for The Biggest Loser?

Monday morning

And yet another start to a new week. These weeks do seem to come around so very quickly nowadays. I wonder why - surely it can't be anything to do with getting older. No, of course not!!

It was a good weekend. Having DG round was lovely and plucking up the courage to start swimming again gave me a real buzz. Silly as it sounds, I was terribly nervous about going again, goodness knows why. For two pins I wouldn't have gone, which would have been a great shame. Now I have started again, I must keep it up!

Today is, I hope, going to be an ordinary day, only made special by the little delights that always occur when you get a lot of five year olds together. Small chuckles and giggles, heard, enjoyed and then, usually, forgotten as soon as the next child speaks. It's violins today: mine missed their lesson last week as the violin teacher was late, stuck in traffic, and one class had to miss their lesson as a result. Better make sure I take the ear plugs! It's the first lesson for four weeks so it should be 'interesting'. Mind you, some of them are really enjoying themselves and one little lad had a violin for Christmas which can't be bad!

An ordinary day. Hope it's a good one.

Sunday 16 January 2011

Sunday evening

. . . and I'm worn out. Very pleasantly worn out, I hasten to add, but it's early night for me and that's for sure.

I talk more about my good habit targets on my other blog and those who read that too will know that one I've just set relates to swimming twice a week. I was intending to go early this morning but DD pointed out that as DG was staying I couldn't really. I therefore decided to go this afternoon, after they had gone home and I got things organised with that in mind. Grabbed a cossie, towels and all the other paraphernalia one seems to need nowadays and quickly checked my handbag. No gym card. Eeek. Checked again, turned everything out. No card. Never mind, they let members in who have forgotten their card and I could ask for a new one. And that was no problem. They did indeed let me in and when I left they had a new card waiting for me to collect. And this one doesn't have my photo on the front, phew!

It's ages since I went swimming but it hasn't changed at all. It was lovely getting into the water after all this time and I stayed in for an hour. I reckon about three quarters of that was actual swimming and it was halfway between what WLR calls 'recreational' swimming and 'moderate' swimming. I wasn't splashing around and mucking about, but I really couldn't go at too fast a pace (not that I ever can anyway) because I had one significant, slightly embarrassing problem. Well, the cossie fitted me all right in the summer at Streele Farm but it didn't today. I had to keep hoiking up the straps to avoid showing too much frontage and when I picked up speed it felt as if it was - well, you get the message, I'm sure. Uncomfortable!

I've just looked at the label - it's certainly one size too big, nearly two, judging by the way it felt. Ooooops! I'm going to have to check the other cossies and discard a few, I can see. Won't make that mistake again! :0)

As a commitment to this, I popped into Matalan's (nearly next door to the gym) and found a nice big, floral bag which will do as a swimming bag. It cheered me up when I saw it and it was reduced to £4 which can't be bad. So that's me set up, barring the cossie sort-out. Now it's a question of when will I go next? Tomorrow evening? We'll see.

Sunday morning

I'm a little bit later than usual today as I didn't get the burgers finished and in the freezer yesterday, what with getting the decorations down (yes, they're finally down, only one and a bit weeks late), DG arriving and staying and so on. They're freezing now though and no harm done, I'm sure. I managed to get nine two and a half pounders (big enough to have one for a meal) and one little one from what was left over, about the size of a conventional shop-bought one but ten times nicer, I am sure.
I made them with lean ground steak, a finely chopped red onion softened in butter, some garlic, a good dollop of Dijon mustard, some Worcester sauce, salt, pepper, mixed herbs and a spoonful or so of grated parmesan. The bit I fried and tasted seemed very tasty so I'm hoping I have the basis of nine delicious meals there now.

At the moment I have, in the oven, a chopped up butternut squash slowly roasting. I don't know what their shelf life is, but this one seems to have been blessed with considerable longevity: it's rather old and was perfectly sound when I chopped it up. I don't have any particular plans for it, although maybe I will use some for Sunday dinner rather than roast potatoes, but I felt it needed using up. Maybe I will free each chunk from its bit of skin and open freeze before bagging, as I do with potatoes or I could mash it up with some philly light and freeze in single portions. Decisions, decisions!

DG is staying until after lunch. After he goes I might resume my swimming. I used to go such a lot and it all tailed off. If I can get the motivation and energy together it would be good.

Well, DG is busy on the Wii, playing table tennis, and he's going to be expecting some breakfast soon so I'd better get going with it.

Saturday 15 January 2011

Saturday evening

DG is now here and happily watching a replay of 'Trapped', a children's programme that used to be his absolute, all time favourite. We've just had dinner - those turkey meatballs that I thought were a bit bland. I was wrong - with some grated cheese on top, some garlic bread, salad and coleslaw, they were delicious and not a crumb has been left. No meatball, no coleslaw - nothing, it's all been eaten. I didn't have an awful lot, but DG made up for that! Young teens are all tummy, aren't they? He's contentedly munching a satsuma now, bless him.

I'm well pleased with the step. It's much higher than the Wii board and will give me a better workout, that's for certain. Five minutes on it and I was puffing - just what I want!

Later on, I will need to make and chill those burgers. The onions are slowly softening as I type and I have to decide what seasonings I want. Garlic, a bit of chilli, some mixed herbs, salt and pepper. Nothing too complicated.

And now I need to go and make up the bed . . .

Saturday: early afternoon

Well, that was a full morning.

I decided to go into town first and then to Tesco so off I went. I got piles of stuff at Lakeland and when I said to the shop assistant that I was going to pay in three separate lots she smiled and said 'It's the £5 off vouchers, I suppose.' very patiently. I didn't buy too much extra not on the list though, which makes me a Very Good Lady because I was sorely tempted.

After I'd dropped that load back in the car, I ventured into the rest of town. I managed to get the hearing appointment sorted and I ventured into M&S to look at their 'fuller' range, which looked very nice but nothing that I couldn't do myself if I wanted to, and with carbs like potatoes, pasta and rice, which I'm trying to cut back on. The protein element was certainly very present though, which is good, and maybe I will treat myself one of these days.

We have a sort of 'gourmet' street market along the pedestrianised High Street. The fruit stall had Sevilles, so I got some, plus some sprouts that looked rather good and some large open mushrooms.
I then stopped at the pork stall. I managed to resist the specialist sausages, but I did get six slices of very good, very nice looking smoked bacon. Horrifically expensive, it was, but they are very thick so one will do for a breakfast.

But it was when I moved along to the next stall that my resistance almost crumbled. It's an artisan bread stall and oh, the variety, the flavours, the aromas . . . expensive, of course, but . . .
Well, I did manage to resist, but I have promised myself that I will treat myself at some point, maybe over half term. The loaves are dear but they are large and I would be able to freeze most of each loaf for other times.

Then off to Tesco and, would you believe it, no step. So I went to their Home Plus shop and - no step. By then I was getting frustrated, tired, hungry and - er, how can I put it - beginning to wish I had better pelvic floor muscles, so I went to Argos and got one there. I nobly resisted Hobbycraft, which really was the triumph of the morning, I reckon.

Now I'm home and, first things first, have had my lunch. One must get ones priorities right, after all. So now it's unpacking time which should be great fun.

Saturday morning

I thought I'd be still asleep at this time, seeing as I went to bed uncharacteristically late last night but no, wide awake just after five seems to be the norm again now. It's rather annoying at weekends but a pretty good habit to have on school days, so no complaints, just a faint whinge!

Today will be busy. I MUST get the long delayed shopping done in town today, so that's the second job. The first, if I get my act together, is to go to Tescos and do the weekly shop before I go into town, which means arriving at Tesco just before eight really. I want to use Tesco because they have something I might buy. You see, I've taken to doing some step (just on and off, on and off) while watching telly and I feel that the Wii balance board just isn't quite high enough to make me feel I'm pushing myself. I trawled Google and saw that Tesco does a value one which is under £20 so I thought I'd get it and see how I get on. I really don't need a posh one, after all. So it's Tesco for the food shop this week and then into town!

The other thing I want to look out for is Seville oranges. Yes, it's that time of year again and I hear that they are appearing in the shops. I doubt I will have time to make in the next few months, so I will freeze them whole and wait until I have enough time to devote to the two day, gooey, sticky, wonderful process of turning those knobbly, unappetising looking fruits into gloriously golden marmalade. Wonderful!

I also want to make some burgers and meatballs from some of the mince I got from Morrisons earlier in the week. I froze two packs and the other must be dealt with today. Better go on a recipe hunt and get some flavour ideas!

And finally, I was trawling trough an older recipe book and found a recipe for 'Roasted rhubarb fool' which looked likely and healthy (all yogurt, no cream) so rhubarb is also on the list, just in case there's any in - Good Food mag assures its readers that there should be some available in January. We will see!!

Oh, and mustn't forget the washing/ironing/etc and that DG is staying overnight and all day tomorrow. Phew . . .

Friday 14 January 2011

Friday evening

. . . and although I'm tired, it's a healthy tiredness, not the utter exhaustion of last Friday, thank goodness. I'm having a lazy evening doing not a lot apart from crocheting a hat in cherry red and two shades of brown - nice, warming colours for cold days. I think it will really look rather nice.

My social life seems to be looking up. Diet disaster but lots of fun. Next Friday the LSA team are taking Lara and me out for our Christmas present - a meal in an Italian place in town. At the end of the month us 'girls' in the cul-de-sac have decided we really ought to get to know each other better so we're going to start doing some stuff together, starting with an evening here with wine and a take away. A few days later I have a very good friend coming to stay for three days and not long after that I have the whole family, including American Sister in Law and Scottish Brother, descending on me for Saturday lunch and a good natter. The following Friday, just before half term, the Infant Team is hoping to go bowling together.

So in-between times I really do have to be very, very good! Loads of good control vibes needed, I think! If you have any spare, so send them this way! Thanks.

Friday morning

Here I am, late and bleary eyed. There's a good reason why I don't have wine during the week (apart from the healthy eating thing, of course). And it's Friday too. Last night was pleasant though - a good chat and just a friendly time all round.

We're back to SEN day now. A day for assessments and paperwork, discussion and possibly, decision. The children have Golden Time, which they always look forward to very much and this week, at the moment, they all have their Golden Time too. No-one has lost minutes. Amazing, but we have had a lovely week together. Long may it continue.

Thursday 13 January 2011

Thursday evening

This is a very quick blog to say that I've had a fantastic day with my lovely class and am just waiting for a friend/neighbour to pop round for a chat and a glass or two if chilled dry white. Should be fun!

Sleep well - I guess I will, especially after a glass or two of . . . ;0)

Thursday morning

I've just peeped out and, for the first time this week, it isn't raining. Also it feels quite mild because there's little or no wind. It HAS been raining thought, the ground is extremely wet, but perhaps I will get my walk to school today.
One thing I really used to have when I was a child was arriving at school with soaking wet feet and clothes and feeling damp and miserable all day, hence my avoidance of it now. Soft? Sure!!!

If the ground remains as wet as it is now, we're unlikely to want to take the children out for games today (the thought of 29 pairs of plimmies, some unnamed, steam drying on the radiator is not that appealing), but we have an alternative lined up. The hall appears to be free this morning, so L and I have arranged to take those times. There's a limit to what we can do indoors in the way of equipment, but it's a lot better than no games at all.

It's been a grand week so far - hopefully today will be just as good.

Wednesday 12 January 2011

Wednesday evening

. . . and it's been another very pleasant day, one way and another, despite the rain which hasn't stopped all day. However, my heroic colleagues took the children out for play anyway, earning our deep gratitude. It does make such a difference the the rest of the day. ICT was extremely peaceful as they all had headphones on, exploring a program called Talking Topics, to the extent that someone walked in and commented on how quiet it was.

Now I'm home, slowly getting sleepier and sleepier. I think it has to be a very early night tonight - maybe as early as half past eight. After all, if I have to drop off, I'd rather it was in bed where I have the change of carrying through all night, not upright on the sofa. I still have rubbish mags to 'read', so that should relax me pretty well!

I've just realised I forgot to put the bin 'out' this morning. The place where they will empty it is one and a half metres from the place where they will not - that short distance seems to make a huge difference! It's not even behind a gate or a fence either. Luckily, there wasn't much in there so another six days won't make too much difference. Must remember the green box on Friday though!

Photo: remember I said that I was looking for a pattern to crochet an egg cosy? Welll, this is it! It works too.

Wednesday morning

It's raining again!!! As soon as I sat this target for walking to school it starts raining in the mornings. Will it clear up by 7:30, I ask myself? Fingers crossed, comes the answer! Mind you, it's hard to complain when I think of the terrible time they are having the other side of the world. Rain is one thing and good for replenishing the water table, etc, but poor, poor Australia (parts of, anyway) is a different matter entirely.

I'm with my class nearly all day, which is very nice! ICT in the morning (another very nice) and library in the afternoon, which we all love. Should be a good day. And then a staff meeting which we in the infants have already held, so that's even better!!

OK, better go and Wii - I need to do my 15 minutes!

Tuesday 11 January 2011

Tuesday evening

I was on afternoon play duty today and my goodness it felt chilly! It's not that cold actually - the temperature was not all that bad, but there was a wind and it's so damp at the moment it feels raw. I think the children were as glad as we were to get back inside again.

I'm a bit challenged regarding the NR Challenge. There's always so many great recipes that can be used by those trying to lose weight at this time of year. following the excesses of the Festive season. Some can't be frozen so they're not much use - when you're on your own, you have to make things where the extra portion(s) can be frozen for another time. However, even without those, there's still rather too many good recipes for comfort and I will have to do some cutting out and keeping, I can see.

I have an abundance of lean steak mince at the moment: Morrisons had three packs for £10 which was just too much like great value to miss. I have chilli and I have savoury mince already in the freezer, I'll probably use some to make some more meatballs as the ones I did last summer were scrummy and have now all gone and I suspect the rest will languish in a frozen state for a few months while I decide which of the many recipes I will try!

Right - time for supper and an early night. Sleep well!

Tuesday morning

A peep through the window shows me that it's absolutely miserable outside. Pouring with rain and it feels cold too. I try very hard not to torn the heating up first thing in the morning, but this morning it's so tempting. I am, however, resisting valiantly! :0)

I'm a bit naughty with the heating at times. It's so very easy to click it up a couple of degrees when it would be cheaper (and healthier for me and the environment) to get moving a bit more or put on another layer. Perhaps it's another resolution I didn't make - to be more sensible with the heating.

If you remember, I had a go at making turkey meatballs at the weekend. DD and DG arrived in the middle of the process and DG wanted to try them. They weren't ready to try so I suggested that he come over next Saturday and have dinner with me. It wasn't long before this turned into an invite to sleep here over Saturday and stay until after tea on Sunday, so that's next weekend nicely sorted. Great!! The meatballs themselves turned out a bit bland, although the sauce was great, but I doubt DG will mind all that much.

Today is PPA and coordinator time this morning and in class this afternoon. There's some nice planning for today so it should be good, especially after such a great day yesterday! I just hope the rain eases and they manage to get out to play.

Monday 10 January 2011

Monday evening: wish fulfilled

I wished for a normal, peaceful day today and that's just what I got. A hardworking class and a really good time. It's my half term for not being on playground duty so I didn't even have to do that - excellent!!

We had a good meeting after school too. We got a lot sorted and organised - very satisfying.

Now, just to make the day perfect, I hope I sleep well. Fingers crossed! :0)

Monday morning: a new week starts

New in more than one way! I'm trying a bit of a new approach to the healthy eating plan, what with the mini meals and the helpful targets. We will see how it all goes but right now it feels pretty good.

It will feel funny, having a Monday without swimming. All of last term it was swimming for my class (we are lucky enough to have our own little pool) and the time was spent sending groups off, receiving groups back and trying to get some work done amidst the coming and going - not so easy. Now we have a full afternoon in class - much better!

That's about it really. Hopefully it will be a normal, hassle free, relatively peaceful day. Fingers crossed!

Sunday 9 January 2011

Nice sauce

There's nothing unusual about this but I've just had it on my slice of nut loaf for dinner and it's very tasty. So here we go, before I forget how I made it:

one shallot, finely chopped
about three inches of leek, finely chopped
about 1/6 red pepper, seeded and chopped
some squirts of light olive oil
dash of water
small can chopped tomatoes. A squirt of garlic puree and chilli puree to taste
a larger squirt of tomato puree
a pinch of smoked paprika
a little salt and pepper
a pinch sugar
a dollop of Quark or other very low fat cheese

Heat the oil, add the onion, leek and red pepper and a dash of water and simmer-fry until softening. Add the chopped tomato, garlic, chilli and tomato puree with a little more water and stir well. Add the salt, pepper and paprika to taste. Add a very small pinch sugar.
Stir well, bring to a simmering boil, cover and allow to summer for a little while.
Then zizz to a puree.
Finally, bring up to a boil (be careful, it splats), take off the heat, stir in the quark and serve.

This made enough for two, maybe three. I'm not sure how it would freeze, with the quark added, but I will try it and see.

Sunday morning

I managed to stay awake until just before eleven and slept until just before eight. NINE hours' sleep! Incredible!! When I woke, it looked very white through the curtain and my first thought was 'snow' but no, no snow thank goodness, just a heavy frost overnight.

At last, at long, long last, the birds have noticed that there's a food supply in the garden. The filled peanut feeder has been hanging in the garden for weeks and weeks to no avail but suddenly it's been discovered and the level is going down rapidly. I must go out and top it up this morning, before they come and find it empty - that would never do.

As I got a fair bit done yesterday, today will be a gentle day, I think. The biggie is the decorations. It's sad to take them down but the time has come as the walrus said . . .
Also there's a bit more ironing to do and the carpets need a dyson, but I expect that today I will have time to start enjoying the new food mags as well as going through the Rosemary Conley one again and noting all the recipes I might like to try. There's so many of them!!
Oh - just thought. We have an Infant staff meeting tomorrow. I need to plan the agenda for that too.
And DD and DG come to tea today.

So a gentle day, more or less just pottering about. Nice.

Saturday 8 January 2011

Saturday evening

Well, I seem to have done most of what I planned. The washing is doing and the ironing is this evening's task. The planning is done, the food is in the freezer now and I've stuck to the food plan. I haven't had time to read the mags yet, but that's OK . . .

I did take some time out to watch a programme on iPlayer that I gather was on earlier in the week. Ten things you need to know about losing weight. I suppose that in one way it wasn't new information, much of it is just common sense really, but as a programme it was really very interesting.
In case you're interested here are the ten things in order of appearance.
Don't skip meals
Change your plate size (smaller, obviously)
Count your calories
Don't blame your metabolism
Protein staves off hunger pangs
Soup keeps you fuller for longer (this was my fave one)
The wider the choice, the more you eat
Low fat dairy helps you excrete more fat (I didn't know that!)
Exercise goes on burning fat, even when you're asleep
Keep moving and lose weight
See - not rocket science, but it's worth watching (or re-watching, because it has been on before) if you're interested in that sort of thing.

Saturday afternoon

Well, I had fun and frolics with the mushy peas. Let them boil over didn't I, while I went to have a bath (I know, stupid thing to do) and when I came down there was mush on the cooker top and puddles dripping on the floor. I suppose the floor did need a wash and the hob is now very clean too!

I thought I'd lost more than I actually did. I decanted the lot into a clean pan (the first one was incredibly messy), added some more water and let it simmer gently with lid off until it was all soft. I then zizzed it all down into a pea puree and it's now freezing in single portion pots. Very useful.

I got three good sized gammon joints and three single helpings of sliced gammon out of the whole gammon, plus three little belly pork joints from the bigger joint that will provide meat for two days each at least. The netting cut OK so each piece is still 'contained', which will help with the boiling or roasting, I think.

Now - what's the next task?

Saturday morning: fabulously frugal food

I'm well chuffed. I 'popped' into Morrison's last night and came out with the following:
1. a huge, ginormous whole boned gammon (smoked), reduced to half price because the sell by date is today
2. A very nice, not too fatty, boned and rolled piece of belly pork, very reasonably priced
3. Three single vegetarian friendly quiches, half price (again, sell by date today)
4. Half a dozen eggs, half price. Sell by date is the 14th but they will be used tomorrow - scrambled eggs on toast for tea for me, DD and DG.

What will I do with it all?
Well, the meats are nicely netted so, hopefully, I can just simply cut them carefully into smaller pieces, wrap them well and freeze them. I think I will cut some slices from the gammon first, for when I fancy gammon for dinner. I'm wondering about having a go at brining one of the bits of belly pork under Diane's expert tuition, if she will be so kind. I should get three smaller pieces of the pork and three good sized pieces of gammon plus the slices. When the family come to stay they love boiled ham, so now I have some ready and the larger joints do have the better flavour.
The three quiches will freeze and be used for a Sunday tea with DD and DG at some point.
The eggs will be gone by tomorrow evening

The other thing I got was a packet of marrowfat peas. When the freezer broke I lost all my little pots of mushy peas and, after the success of the soup yesterday (basically sprout cooking water, chicken granules and a can of mushy peas) I decided I ought to have a supply of mushies. They're part way through cooking as I type.

We will draw a veil over the rest of the shopping. Most of it was Not Helpful!

I was going to go into town today but it's chucking it down at the moment so no way!
Today I would like to:
deal with the meat and freeze
get the mushy peas into little pots and in the freezer
washing and ironing and all the other regular weekend chores
gather together some NRC recipes - the new foody mags are out and also the new Rosemary Conley mag has some super recipes in this time
next week's planning
Christmas decorations (although I might leave them until tomorrow)
be lazy with telly and crochet
STICK TO MY EATING PLAN (yes, the caps are deliberate)

Just remembered - it's plastic recycling today so, fortunately, all I need to do is tie up the bag and chuck it out of the front door where they will collect it. Better go and do it.

Friday 7 January 2011

Friday evening

. . . and rarely have I been more glad that it's the start of the weekend. I'm shattered.

It's ridiculous. Three days, one day of which has been non contact, and I've had it! Am I getting old? I'm sure I used to be able to bounce my way through the week and be sorry that the next day was Saturday. I'm sure I used to leap out of bed each day rejoicing in the teaching day to come. I still look forward to it all but somehow there's a bit of a time lag there. I just hope that what I have lost in downright energy I have gained in wisdom and experience.

So today? Well, it was an interesting day, for sure. I can't go into details, but I learned a lot and got plenty done, one way and another. I had a great 'opinion-share' with the other teacher who has shared SEN responsibility, the contents of which shows that we are - er - more mature now! I worked with some children. I started a referral form.

All of that aside, my abiding memory of today will be of one little lassie who sidled up to me during Golden Time (I was working on the laptop just outside the open plan bay).

'I do love you, Mrs Clark' she said putting her little hand in mine. You know, those six words made all the difference. I feel a glow of pleasure and satisfaction now, just thinking of it. There's a lot of discouragement in teaching, a lot of frustration, a lot of feeling hopeless and useless and wondering if you've made any difference at all.
But when a little lady (or a little laddie) says that - well, it makes it all worthwhile, doesn't it?

And now it's the weekend. I hope we all have a good one.

Friday morning

What a day it was yesterday. It was raining when I left for school and I don't think it stopped all day. No outside playtimes, lunchtime and, of course, no games lesson. I don't know who was closer to boiling point by the end of the day, me or the children, bless them, but it wasn't nice to be stuck in, especially so soon after the holidays. It did try to snow at one point in the afternoon, but the most it could manage was sleet, so we didn't even have that consolation!

I took the car yesterday and by the evening I was glad I had, close as the school is. I've discovered another advantage to walking - I don't go past Morrisons! After a hard day, it's just so easy to 'pop in' for 'something nice' because 'I deserve it after today'! False reasoning all the way down the line, but such very seductive thinking when one is tired and fed up. I managed to fight it and win yesterday but so often I don't! The forecast is not particularly encouraging today either - I'll see how I feel about walking when it's time to leave.

Today is my SEN day. It will be lovely to see A again after the break and I know the children will be glad to see her too. I also have to break the sad news to my class that on Fridays they will not get their playtimes as they are timetabled for gymnastics at that time. Poor little sausages!! Last term it was their term for swimming so the gymnastics didn't happen. For the rest of the year it's gym.

Well, everything seems to be ready. The work is prepared, the planning is all it should be. I have time to plan next week's meals now, so it's all ready for tomorrow and shopping. Better go and get started on it!

Thursday 6 January 2011

Thursday morning

It's cold, wet and miserable out there this morning. On iGoogle it says there's a chance of snow today but it doesn't smell or 'feel' like snow, it's just wet! I suspect it will be a car-to-school day today.

Apart from that, it's amazing how quickly one gets back into routine again, isn't it? Register, phonics, assembly, playtime, etc, etc, punctuating the longer lessons/teaching times throughout the day. I hope the children feel that they have fallen back into it all as quickly and easily as I do.

I bought some reduced turkey mince the other day so I'm having a little think about what I can make with it. At the moment it's in the freezer, as it was on its last day (hence the price reduction), so I have time to think. At the moments, meatballs (turkey balls) seems the way to go. I have finished the meatballs made from the left over burgers from the summer barbecue so there's a gap there. I'll explore a little bit and see what I can find.

Must remember to put the bin out. For some reason, last week, my bin and next door's bin didn't get emptied, so it's been a bit tricky managing to find space for all this weeks rubbish. I have a full bin in the kitchen but can't empty it until there's some space. They'd better not miss me out this time . . .

Wednesday 5 January 2011

Wednesday evening

. . . and I'm worn out. It's been a long day, topped off by a staff meeting that was not too long but a bit unexpected.

As I thought, it really was nice to see the children again and, given that they've been off for two and a half weeks, they worked quite well. Especially successful was the ICT lesson on starting to use WordArt which they all seemed to enjoy very much.

Wasn't it cold today? It was here, anyway. I was on afternoon play duty and we stood and shivered while the children rushed around us. Will it snow? I suppose it's doubtful as we rarely get much in the way of snowfall around here, but you never know. We've reminded the children that they can wear tracksuits in games tomorrow, weather permitting, of course.

And back home I've more or less kept to the eating plan today. It's proving harder to get back on track than I thought it would. The spirit is very willing but the flesh is weaker than it ought to be at the moment. I need some good will-power vibes so if you have any spare, please send them over in this direction, would you? Thanks!

Wednesday: and back to school

Lest night I really, really didn't want the holiday to end. Retirement felt very attractive! Don't get me wrong, I don't mean I didn't want to go back to school, I don't mean I didn't want to teach again. Far from it. But those slower paced days of the last week have been lovely. Time to do a bit of craft work. Time to read. Time to cook.

This morning the professional 'adrenaline' has woken up. I've already adapted the planning a bit, the brain is active again and I'm raring to go. Thank goodness!

See you this evening.

Tuesday 4 January 2011

Tuesday: evening

Just a very quick whizz through as it's well past my bed time.

It was an interesting day, covering the three very differing approaches to teaching the curriculum - P4C, visual literacy and Mantle of the Expert. I'm tired - my brain hasn't had to work nearly so hard for a couple of weeks and the shock is a bit too much for it.

It was nice to get back, nice to see my colleagues again, nice to catch up on news. And tomorrow it will be more than nice to see my children again, bless them.

But for now - good night one and all. Sleep well!

Tuesday: a bit of frugality

I've just been tidying the kitchen. I was about to throw away the water the carrots were boiled in (with the sprouts and broccoli above in a steamer tray above) last night (yes, I am that slatternly). I lifted the carrots out with a slatted spoon so the water was left in the pan.

Something stopped me. The water looked 'good' - you know, nutritious. So I put the pan back on the hob, added some chicken stock granules, a bit of marmite, some herbs and some red lentils and it's now boiling up to make my soup for today. Depending on the finished flavour, I might add some tomato puree, we will see in about ten minutes so I won't send this yet . . .

. . . and the result is yum yum. No need for anything else. The only slight thing is that the marmite made it more salty than I would wish (there was no added salt apart from that). I don't think it is overly salty, but I have stopped adding salt to vegetables when I cook them (and you can't when steaming, of course) so I think it's the contrast.

So that's today's lunch sorted, based on something I was just going to throw away!

Tuesday: School's back

Teachers, anyway. Today is an INSET day. We used to call them B(aker) Days, I remember, in the early days, or, as one staffroom wit described them, 'bidets'.

Today is, I think, a revisiting of three teaching tools: visual literacy, mantle of the expert and philosophy for children. It should all be very helpful, but the most important thing will be to get into the classroom and make it ready. It's been hard to get into school during the Christmas holiday. Leading up to Christmas I was too busy and between Christmas and New Year I was feeling a bit yuck. OK, so that's an excuse, yuck never stopped anyone sorting out their classroom, lets be honest. The inclination wasn't there either!

However, playtime is now over, the serious journey of earning the daily crust is now about to roll again. Off we go!

Monday 3 January 2011

Monday: evening

. . . and that's it. Holiday over, back to the grindstone again. I really could do with a few more days (couldn't everyone?) now that I'm no longer aching and feeling a bit yuck. Never mind, not long till the weekend!

It's been quite a creative day today. I decided I needed to do something about all the shelled nuts I have left over and asked in Virtual Slimming. Someone posted some links, one of which was for a 'mixed nut roast' which I decided to try. It was jolly nice too. Here's the link. I guess this counts as my first N R C offering. It got a bit changed - garlic, vegetarian 'Worcester' sauce and paprika were added and I was pleased with the results. The only problem was that it fell apart a bit when I sliced it - a little beaten egg would probably solve that one.

I also hunted for a pattern for an egg cosy as my efforts kept coming out too big and found a nice one here which I easily turned into a Santa hat with a pom pom on top and a white band around the bottom. It gave me a rather early idea for Christmas presents for next year's class - I did say 'early' after all. I might post a photo at some point if I get round to taking one.

How would we manage without Google, eh?

Monday: New Year bank holiday

. . . to add to all the other holidays we've had over the last few weeks! If it wasn't for today, I'd be at school by now; as it is, it's been delayed until tomorrow. What with snow days, Christmas specials and the Christmas break, it seems an awful long time ago since we were actually getting stuck into things at school and I feel a bit out of the loop. It won't take long, it's just an odd sort of feeling at the moment.

I did manage to get loads and loads of washing and ironing done over the weekend. There's still some ironing remaining. I'm trying very hard not to use the tumble dryer too much so most of my clothes get hung up to dry and that can take some time. Most of the sheets, duvet covers and pillowcases got sorted though and they took up a huge proportion of the whole task. Today I will do the rest which will keep me in clothes for enough time to give me a breather!

I thought I had dealt with all the leftovers but, in a corner of the fridge this morning, I found an opened packet of chestnuts, the vacuum packed ones. I suppose I could have looked for the first recipe in my N R C but I couldn't be bothered. Instead I zizzed them up with some quark, salt and smoked paprika and it made a rather nice spread, sweet in a savoury sort of way, which I have divided into six little portions for lunches, to be spread on crackers or crispbreads. In the freezer they go!

I had a bit of fun yesterday trying to crochet egg cosies. That might sound silly but when I have boiled egg, I usually have two. While I'm eating the first one, the second one starts to get cold. I knitted a little cosy a while ago, but fancied a choice (yes, I know, daft really). This led on to experimenting with crocheting a little flower to go on as a decoration and I ended up looking on Google for some patterns, of which there are many! Now, I'm no crochet expert but these little flowers are quite easy so I'm going to keep investigating and when I get my cosy completed (if I ever do), I'll take a photo! Bet you can't wait!

For the rest of the day I have school work to do, bits and bobs to finish off and a last day to enjoy. I hope it's a good one - for us all.

Sunday 2 January 2011

Sunday morning

The last day of freedom. Tomorrow I must look over my planning, sort out my resources, etc, etc, etc. And then on Tuesday, the staff are all in for INSET with the children back on Wednesday.

So how am I celebrating today. Well, actually, I'm not really. After yesterday's mammoth washing spree there's a huge pile - several piles, in fact - of ironing which I really do want to get done this morning, so that's one or two DVDs on while I do so. The house itself isn't in a bad state, so that's OK. The kitchen needs a little bit of sorting but half an hour should see that straight. This afternoon, DD and DG are coming round for tea, hopefully.

Just an ordinary day, in fact, the holiday feeling is past and life is moving on and a jolly good thing too. Holidays and breaks are lovely, but they should be the punctuation marks, not the words and phrases. Half term is seven weeks away, that's all.

Better go and set up the ironing board. Start early, finish early!

Saturday 1 January 2011

Saturday: banana ice cream and other stuff

It's so nice to feel more energetic again. I've had a good sort out of the fridge and it's now looking much more healthy and wholesome.

Some left over hummus has been put in little pots and frozen for lunches
Some cheese has been grated and put into little pots too - just 20gs worth which is plenty.
I sliced up the remains of the Christmas cake, wrapped it carefully in easy-leave and that's also in the freezer.
Then, just a short time ago, after a discussion in OUSA Food and Drink about using up soft bananas, I made some banana yogurt ice cream and that's also now in the freezer in little pots. It's scrummy and this is what I did.

I mashed up four over-ripe bananas and added to it some leftover double cream (about 60mls) and some low fat natural yogurt (Greek 'style', so quite thick). I added a splash of good vanilla essence and some maple syrup to taste. I then zizzed it round until it was more or less smooth with just a hint of texture. I churned it in the ice cream maker for about 35 mins until it was frozen (but still soft), then spooned it into little pots to go in the freezer.

You know, my old freezer would never have coped with all this influx of stuff!

Saturday: F M C

Around this time last year, inspired by Maggie's Nigel Slater challenge, I started my F M C - Food Magazine Challenge. The idea was that once a week I would try a new recipe found in a food magazine, e.g., Delicious, Olive, BBC Good Food, etc.

It was going great guns until I decided that I needed to get the old eating habits in hand and started using BodyChef, followed by my own version of the same. After that, the FMC died a sudden death, sadly but inevitably.

I was having a little think about what else I could do, similar but helpful. It may sounds daft, but I think that once a week is too much, given that I prefer to make larger amounts and freeze single portions. It saves time in the longer term and makes better use of electricity, etc, but by its very nature, cuts down on the amount of cooking I need to do from week to week.

There does seem to be a great awareness of the need to eat healthily in food mags and in other resources right now, certainly there are a lot of what I would call 'more healthy' recipes around. By that, I suppose I mean recipes that I feel OK about cooking and eating/freezing, that are not too expensive, that don't use unusual and hard-to-get ingredients, that fit into my lifestyle and timescales.

So, here's my foody challenge. At least once a month I will try a new recipe. It can be from anywhere - internet, book, magazine - but it must be one I've not made before. And I want it to be 'healthy' - not too much fat content, for a start - and reasonably economical. This doesn't seem too restrictive and works with what I want to achieve in other areas of my life.

So here's to the NRC - New Recipe Challenge - in 2011. The goulash doesn't count - that was last year!

Saturday: New Year morning - a time for reflection

In my other blog, the Food Diary of a Teacher, I said:

May we all have a 2011 that suits us and helps us to grow in kindness, compassion and character.

. . . and I would like to wish this to all my lovely readers, old and new. Thanks for staying with my blog this year and I hope I don't bore you too much this coming year!

New Year is a funny time, isn't it? It's just another day, the next day in a personal string that starts with birth and finishes with death. All that has happened really is that another day has slipped from one side or our life-string to the other. Done. Finished. Over, never to be lived again (Doctor Who to the contrary notwithstanding!).

And yet, because we humans are what we are, we need points in our life when we can just pause and reflect, analyse and segment, look back and look forward, decide what we would like to change and take steps to make it happen. After all, our future is grounded in our past.

New Year's Resolutions.
From a very small child, like most of us, I am sure, I liked to set for myself almost impossible targets - no sweets, saving my pocket money instead of spending it all the first day, being nice to *** (better not say the name in case there's a very, very remote chance that she reads this blog) - targets that fell by the wayside the day I got my pocket money or met up with ***.
As I got older it was things like getting my homework done the night it was set (hollow and hysterical laughter), keeping my bedroom tidy . . . and cutting down on sweets.
As an adult, they ranged from keeping up with the housework to keeping up to date with my planning, losing some weight . . . etc.

See the pattern? I do. And have all these resolutions made a difference? No, not really. I still struggle with food management, I still have a messy house, I still leave some things until the last possible moment. That's me all over and all the 'resolutions' in the world won't change the basic me.

So no list of Resolutions this year.
I guess you could say that my resolution is to not have Resolutions! I know what works and what leads to blips and stumbles - mostly, anyway. I have strategies. I have learnt that I am what I am and I like me (most of the time, anyway). I try to make 'good' choices. I try to be kind and compassionate and to guard my character against onslaughts. Sometimes I succeed and sometimes I don't. That's life. When I succeed it's great and when I fail, maybe I learn something from it. I still feel myself sinking into misery and 'depression' at times and I'd like to handle those times a bit better, a bit more positively. I'd like a tidier house but recognise that while it's down to me it ain't going to happen all the time. I'd like to be fitter and healthier with the resulting weight loss and I'm hoping I might get closer to that this year, but I now accept that it's always going to be a struggle and an up and down road for me, as it is for just about everyone. It has to be worked at, it won't just 'happen', there will be battles, some of which I will win, some I will lose. But I know that one can lose a battle but still finally win the war!

May we all win our wars, whatever happens in our individual battles!