Monday 28 February 2011

Monday evening

. . . and yes, I did remember that I was on playground duty. I wished I wasn't - goodness it was perishing cold and my hands were blocks of ice by the end. Even Little Pickle didn't protest at having to wear his coat so it *must* have been cold!

As always, going back was nice. I have no experience of secondary education but I do know that at primary level the children become friends. Friends to enjoy, socialise with and generally make part of your life. A week or fortnight off, welcome as they are in terms of rest, mean that this friendship is interrupted. Resuming it is lovely. Today was really lovely. Noisy, but lovely! The end of the summer term can be heartbreaking . . .

That turtle display was very well received, much to our delight. We thought it was pretty good: it's nice to have that feeling confirmed by others. Well worth the going into school in the holiday to get it done. I feel quite proud of it really so I'm sure the children do as well. After all, it's celebrating their hard work.

Just one blip thing - I've been sneezing an awful lot today. Usually this means I am starting a cold. Oh, please, no, I've more than had my share of virus-y things this school year.

Fingers crossed!

Monday morning

Just a quick one this morning and it's back to school for seven weeks before the Easter break. The most important thing is that I MUST remember I am on playground duty on Mondays. Must, must, must!

Have a great day!

Sunday 27 February 2011

Sunday evening

Another gentle, pottering, productive day. It started off sunny and bright but ended up rather dull and getting somewhat chilly. Not that this stopped me from getting those plants into the garden at last - most of them anyway. That, plus some turning over and weeding, has made the garden, both front and back, look a lot brighter and pleasant to look at. I was delighted to see that I haven't killed some of the plants I put in last year and the violets, given to me by my parents, are starting to flower (rather early, surely?). The aquilegias are coming up and even the hostas are sending up little green tips of promise.

After shopping I made cupcakes and had a very amateur go at decorating them. At times like this I wish I had the 'eye' for arrangement, but they taste nice anyway. The bedroom got pretty much finished, washing was hung up to dry and DD and DG came round for tea. Just a nice, normal Sunday really.

Back to school tomorrow!

Sunday morning update

It was muffins. Pineapple and cranberry. Scrummy!

Sunday morning

. . . and the very last day before school starts. Not the last day of the holiday though, that was Friday.
Yesterday turned out well. I made some bread 50% the old fashioned way. In other words, the doughty was made and kneaded and got it's first rising in the bread maker, then finished off by hand. Very nice it was too; unfortunately for my resumed healthy eating, pretty irresistible.

I was directed to a recipe in one of the WLR boards, for Moroccan meatballs. Now, I'm quite partial to meatballs of various kinds and this recipe used steak mince, of which I had some, in the freezer. It also asked for fresh leaf coriander and mint, neither of which I had, so I used dried coriander and, believe it or not, a good dollop of good quality mint sauce and you know what - they were delicious - still are, in fact, as there are seven portions to go into the freezer as soon as I get round to bagging and labelling them.

I didn't go shopping in the end, so will need to go today. A gentle meander around Morrison's at 10:00 will get it all done. In the meanwhile I have one egg left and can't decide whether to make cranberry muffins or cupcakes . . . decisions, decisions!

Saturday 26 February 2011

Saturday afternoon

For a nothing day I have been remarkably busy. I've baked two small loaves the old fashioned way (i.e. not in the bread maker), am half way through making up a recipe called Moroccan meatballs, done a lot more to my bedroom, sorted out a whole load of old knitting wool and sorted out my eating for the week.

Oh - and christened (not literally) my new stepper.
In Tesco on Wednesday, I noticed that they had a stepper with a bashed in box at more or less half price. Just a basic one but another weapon in my getting healthy armoury, I thought. So today I put Baking made Easy on iPlayer, put the stepper behind the PC chair (I need something to hold on to to keep my balance at the moment) and stepped away for - ooohhh - all of two minutes, by which time I was puffing and blowing and red of face. Oh, the shame. Still, at least it gives me a target to work towards, doesn't it?

So now I need to have a bath and get dressed (ooops), do the weekly shop which is pretty small now I'm back on healthy eating and using all the resources I have in the freezer, finish off the bedroom (yay), finish off the meatballs and get them into freezer pots and then have a nice peaceful evening.

Saturday morning

Today is the first time this half term break that I have nothing external planned. No dates for lunch, visiting, etc.

Does that mean I have nothing to do? Dear me, no, I wish . . . There's the bedroom to finish off (can't leave it half done now), a pile of washing, a bit of shopping and some plants to get into the garden, assuming it stops raining. The rain was falling before I went to bed last night and it's still chucking it down now. Good for the water table, I guess. Not so good for gardening!

Oh, and one more thing, sadly. Planning! Yuck.

Friday 25 February 2011

Friday afternoon

. . . and it's been an industrious and productive day all round.

First of all, please don't faint, gentle reader, I started sorting out the tip . . . er, I mean my bedroom. The dust was shocking. It's looking decidedly better now and there's more to do yet.

Then I pootled into school to meet up with L and get our art board display done. The photos are of the results. Caribbean turtles, inspired by artwork in one of the Anansi books we read last week. That seemed to take for ever but I think it was well worth it.

Then I popped back home, sewed two buttons on a wee tank top thingy, wrapped it up and took it over to my friend's house to hand over. My conscience is now clear!

And now I'm home, wondering if I want to get muddy in the garden now or whether it will be better to wait until tomorrow. It's bedroom or garden, garden or bedroom? Or neither, I suppose. :0)

Friday morning

Last day of the half term break! It doesn't look as if it's been raining overnight which is very welcome, although it does feel a bit chilly at the moment. Hopfully it will be another delightful spring-like day, as yesterday was. I do hope so - I have some flowers to put in the bare bed (where the plant that was taking over the world lived) while I decide what to put there more permanently and also a couple of very healthy looking perennial wallflowers to replace the two I dug out last autumn. My bigger French window looks straight out onto the former bed, so some colour is needed there. Photo was taken in very poor light - sorry!

I'm hoping to get a lot of house based stuff done today. It needs doing and I'd love to have a free day tomorrow. Here's hoping, eh?

Thursday 24 February 2011

Thursday evening

It's been another lovely day today. For a start the sun has shone. More or less all day too, with a blushing pink evening sky that promises more delights to come! Secondly. DG was gorgeous when I went to look after him and we had a very productive visit to Hobbycraft together.

I got my buttons and DG was promised 'something' as a holiday treat (no, it wasn't bribery, I didn't say anything until we were there). To my great amusement, he bypassed all the flashy, sparkly, foamy stuff, looking carefully but rejecting firmly. What really pushed all his creative buttons was the card. Card in every shade of the rainbow and more. Card whose colours sang to him as compulsively and melodically as those knitting yarns sang to me the other day. How I understood his emotions as he stood, transfixed, utterly focused, selecting carefully as he declared his intent to use some of the card to make a large Monopoly board of his own design. So like me and so like his mother too.
It's nice to see some of those creative genes blossoming anew in another generation.

Then it was off to Stock for lunch in the Hoop with two good friends. We talked and talked and ate and talked and talked and . . . well, you get the idea, I am sure. These were the two friends I went to see '49 Steps' with last October. Two former colleagues (they have both now retired) with whom I have always got on extremely well.

We had a great time and the pub itself was a delight. Old beams (genuinely old beams) and uneven floors. Plenty of good, attentive service and very tasty food. Not cheap, but 'value for money' as OFSTED always says. We had a super time, chatted for ever, and I was shocked when I discovered the time as L and I drove back to Chelmsford. Half past four!!!! What a great way to spend a day, eh?

Photo: A snap of the interior of the upstairs of the Hoop, taken on my mobile (so not great quality)

And tomorrow is the last holiday day!

A quick one

The Christmas Stocking patterns can be found here:

Thursday morning

And here we are, more than half way through half term now. Today is a full day with a nice lunch planned for the middle and, hopefully, time to got to Hobbycraft for those buttons.
I'm finding that I'm gradually sleeping better as the week goes on. I don't mean longer, I mean without waking up quite so often. Waking every hour or so is not refreshing so I'm not missing that one little bit!

I've taken a few photos of the little Christmas stocking which, I think, looks cute. The colours are wrong - I just used what I had while away - but you get the idea. The pattern creator (it was on a blog and I will try to find it again so I can give due credit) said she used 4 ply and cotton yarn. I can understand about using cotton yarn and maybe I will get a couple of 4 ply balls and give it a go. If I do, that will mean getting another set of double ended needles, as at one point, you have to knit from the other side.
I do like them, though, and think that they would make a nice Advent Calender if I could make twenty four of them. The challenge would be to have different patterns or colour combinations so that no two were the same. It should be easy enough to create some different Fair Isle-y type designs so I'll have a little think. I'd want to stick with red and green, they being my Christmas colours, with maybe goldy yellow, if it can be got. Or perhaps white would look OK. Ponder, ponder.

Any advice for me anyone
Photos: The top two are just the wee stocking and the one just below is me playing about on Paint Shop Pro.

Wednesday 23 February 2011

Wednesday early evening

I have just spent the afternoon with the most handsome, cuddly, adorable young man I have met in a long while. The fact that he is eight weeks old adds to his charms rather than detracting from them. He's utterly gorgeous and I'm in love!

The jumper was approved. The sleeveless one didn't get handed over because I didn't manage to get the buttons. Hopefully I will be able to hand it over on Friday. You can see what the jumper is like now I've posted a few photos. The colour isn't quite right, but you get the idea!

Wednesday morning

Half way through the half term break already. Time flies when you don't want it to, doesn't it? Mind you, at my age time flies anyway, accelerating away in to the distant future! No way of stopping it, nor of slowing it down. A reminder to make the most of it.

Having said that, I have to admit that yesterday was a shockingly lazy day in some ways but I did get the second little knitted gift finished, all but the buttons, which I forgot to buy on Sunday. All that remains is to get that sorted, wrap them both up carefully and take them over this afternoon - I'm looking forward to that.

The other main thing I did was to go to a local health food store and stock up on the more 'exotic' dried fruits I couldn't find last week. So now I have papaya, pineapple, mango, a big bag of cranberries, etc, as well as some apple concentrate which will be nice mixed with fizzy water and topped with ice, and a few other bits and bobs. Oh, and a large tin of Marigold low sodium vegetable bouillon. I was really pleased to get that as I use it a lot and you can't always get the low sodium variety in the local shops. To get a large tub of it was an added bonus. I was a bit put out with myself though - there were some lovely looking organic oats but I have only just refilled my oat container so really don't need any more at all at the moment. Never mind, the shop won't go away (I hope).

Today's resolution: Must start on my bedroom, must, must, MUST. It's an utter disgrace!!!
Today's knitting (is this incompatible with the immediate above?): I have found a nice (and free) pattern for little Christmas (sorry) stocking decorations, teeny, just big enough for a fun size bar or a small handful of sweets. I want to make some!!

Tuesday 22 February 2011

Tuesday morning

. . . and it feels pretty cold at the moment. The ground is very wet too so it's obviously been raining overnight. Never mind, I don't have to turn out if I don't want to and wet playtime is not something that exercises my mind unduly right now!

I got the little jumper finished yesterday evening. As with all knitted things, the time it took to make up was well worth the effort and care taken at this point makes all the difference to the finished article. I'm pretty pleased with the way it looks now and will post a photo when (if) I get round to taking one. I have started the second one now, which will be a lot quicker as it has no sleeves and the neck is just plain 2x2 rib. Knitting for littlies is just so rewarding: the work grows so quickly and is done before it gets to be a chore in any way.

The other very pleasant happening yesterday was lunch with Liz, who has now retired but was my co-worker in year 1. We had a great natter about all sorts of stuff: retirement suits her very well and she's blossoming. She made jacket potato, but it was sweet potato, not ordinary, and the topping had chutney, bacon, mushroom - oh, it was delicious. There was cheese on top and a side salad and I made and took round some banana and mango muffins which came out really well. Soft, light and 'fluffy' and perfectly moist inside. I could have stayed for hours longer but needed to go so we will meet up again soon.

I have no idea what I'm going to do today (apart from knitting, that is) - we'll see what happens. I did notice a wool and stuff sort of shop yesterday which could be fun to investigate. Now, when do I get paid?

I'm sure the day will be good, whatever comes along.

Monday 21 February 2011

Monday morning

The knitting went very well yesterday. I managed to get the back and both sleeves done by dint of knitting furiously for most of the evening and some of the afternoon too. I'm very pleased with this pattern - not only was it free on the internet (and I saw it for sale in Hobbycraft) but it is also knitting up extremely well, the instructions are clear and there have been no misunderstandings (so far). Can't complain about that.

Yes, I managed to get to Hobbycraft yesterday afternoon. It's a wonderful place to just meander around, taking in all the many and varied crafts that are provided for in one shop. It's proving to be a popular place too. There were quite a lot of shoppers and the checkouts looked very busy.

No, I'm no artist. I can't draw to save my life, never could, and while I am 'good with my hands' (as the saying goes), my sense of creativity is pretty minimal. But all my life I have been attracted to colour and texture and have been known to spend hours wandering around a good collection of yarns or fabrics, looking, touching, comparing, matching - just letting it all sing to me. Yesterday afternoon I went with a purpose. I even had a list! However, that didn't stop me from doing the usual in terms of hovering, wandering up and down the wool shelves, imagining and also, I have to admit, gasping with horror at some of the prices.
But, oh, those colours. Absolutely glorious! Utterly magical.

Sunday 20 February 2011

Sunday morning

I'm really late today. For a start, I didn't wake until after sunrise - well after. That's good, especially after my two long sleeps yesterday. Take away Chinese for breakfast is hardly healthy, but it's awfully nice and today was no exception. It doesn't happen all that often so I'm sure there's no harm done.

I then sat down to a good knitting session. I made the front of a little shawl neck jumper for baby T yesterday, all bar one but of neck shaping, and I've now made a good start on the back. Knitting patterns almost always say back first but I always do front first so that however the neck shaping works out, I can do the back to match (assuming no back neck shaping, of course).
I will get the back done today. For baby knits I always do the sleeves together, one set of needles, two balls of wool. It means that whatever the shaping is, they will both be exactly the same and seems to take less time. What will take the longest is the neck, of course, but I do love shawl necks and it means that the neck will be plenty large enough for T's head to go through.

The pattern is here but I'm not doing stripes and different colours, I'm doing it all a cheerful cherry red with a diamond pattern knitted in. It doesn't change the tension at all and looks good.
I did find a little sleeveless top pattern but it has American terms (which I had to look up) and seems to indicate that you keep increasing as you knit up, which really can't be right. It's going to need adapting so I'll get the other done first and then have a think about it. It might be nice knitted in a basket weave stitch.

I've also popped a smallish piece of belly pork in the oven. It's based on a recipe on the wonderful 'Cottage Smallholder' site. Basically you slice an orange and lay it on a piece of foil, then you lay the unrolled pork, skin side up, on top. You then wrap the foil snugly all around the meat but leave the skin uncovered. Then you pop it in a medium to slow oven and let it roast very slowly for a long time, until the meat is soft and falling apart. That's the theory!

Oh, well, this is not going to get me bathed and dressed so I'd better get going. Knowing there's no work for a week makes me very lazy! Boot up the backside needed, I think! I really do want to go to Hobbycraft and I can't go dressed like this - not unless I want to be arrested, that is!

Saturday 19 February 2011

Saturday evening

. . . amd what a lazy, wastrel, idle, nothing, wonderful day it has been, to be sure. I finished the larger tea cosy, I started a jumper for little T, I had two much needed sleeps, I watched loadsa telly including Death on the Nile, I watched DVDs of The Queen (brilliant) and Independence Day (escapish nonsense) and I started rereading a favourite book, Maeve Binchey's 'Circle of Friends'. I ordered a takeaway and opened a bottle.

That's what the beginning of half term is all about!

Saturday morning

The first day of nine days of freedom - comparative freedom, anyway. No remembering to set the alarm, Just In Case (although I can't remember the last time I actually needed to be woken by it), no getting up to scrabble around finding/preparing resources, etc, (yes, I ought to be ready the night before, but I am a morning person and when I do prepare things the night before I end up doing them again the next morning because morning stuff is so much better). No planning and evaluation, no ironing stuff at the last minute, no meals that must be prepared quickly because I'm very tired and lacking in energy to do any more.
Just plenty of time to do things I want to do, when I want to do them (or not, as the case may be). And I'm not even going to think about school until next Friday! So there!!

Today, I have decided, is a nothing day. R&R is the rule today. Of course, if I want to do stuff, I can, but I don't HAVE to and I won't feel guilty if I don't. I might do a bit of baking. After yesterday, I really fancy making some muffins myself; they can go in the freezer after all. I want to knit stuff. I want to crochet. I will sleep as and when the tiredness hits. And I might even indulge in a celebratory drink or two this evening.

The bowling was huge fun last night. Lots of laughs and I think everyone had a good time, although there was a lot of very evident tiredness. We all agreed we must do it again so it looks as if that's two socials each term now. I think they're a huge lot better and more effective than 'team bonding' stuff and much, much more enjoyable too.

Ah, I've just thought of something I do have to do today. I need to go to Hobbycraft (oh, the hardship) to get some wool and maybe a pattern so I can start knitting a little something for a friend's baby. It hardly counts as 'nothing' but I guess it is definitely on the enjoyable side of life.

It's a good life!

Friday 18 February 2011

Friday late afternoon

Two weeks ago it would have been almost dark at this time. It's still light now. And don't we feel better for the longer days and the colour starting to show all round us? As I walk home I can see patches of purple, white and yellow and there are exciting green spires promising more, much more to come too. Lovely!

Today was lovely too. The Caribbean muffins went down a storm. We couldn't find much tropical dried fruit over the road so we used dried pineapple and then added fresh chopped banana and mango (not overly ripe, but it worked well) and they were scrummy. One to remember for another time. My LSAs and my supply teacher all took a copy of the print out so thanks, Nigella, for the base recipe. If you're interested, it's here: the cranberries were replaced by the fruit as recorded above and the caster sugar by demerara sugar. The original recipe is also well worth doing: it's now one of our Christmas traditions - muffins for breakfast on Christmas morning. Scrummy.

After morning play we (all of the infant department) bounced around the school, singing and dancing for the juniors, ending up in the playground where we conga-ed up and down, up and down, watched enviously through their demountable windows by some year fives, until we were breathless, before we went back indoors to rest. One little foundation stage child was heard to say 'Can we do that again tomorrow please'! Er - no . . . thanks but . . . no! Definitely - no!

It was a memorable end to an interesting and enjoyable week but, oh, we staff are all ready for a break now. Thank goodness for half term! So all my littlies piled out of the classroom, Anansi or carnival headdress on head, the other around one arm, over-laden with book bag, coat, PE bag, lunch box and water bottle. They were weary too!

And now I must start getting ready for bowling. Yay!!!

Friday morning

. . . and here we are at the end of Multi-Cultural week, the end of the half term and the end of the first half of the school year. Time flies.

It's been a great week, mostly, once the strange feelings has settled and things started falling into place. I've recovered from the early sleepless nights worrying about 'how it will go' and 'have I planned enough'. It's Caribbean muffins today. Oh, OK, Nigella's Christmas muffins with tropical fruit instead of cranberries. I'm sure she wouldn't mind!!! Then a 'carnival' and finally a special assembly in the afternoon to see what everyone's been doing. Excellent!!

I won't actually be doing it, of course. It's my SEN day and there's a whole bundle of stuff to do, as always. Reports that HAVE to be sent off today, forms to complete, all sorts of stuff, in fact. I hope they save a bit of muffin for me. :0)

Tonight is the first of our Infant Socials this term. We're going bowling! I think that, when we set this date, none of us realised quite how weary we would be after this special week, but I'm sure it will be tremendous fun and a load of fun! And I can sleep away tomorrow, if I want.

Thursday 17 February 2011

Thursday morning

. . . and I'm feeling much brighter after a good night's sleep. I'm out to the second of the CASPA training sessions today and have planned a lovely morning's work based on an Anansi story - literacy, a bit of PSHE, some art and craft making an Anansi headdress and then a mathematical investigation. I'm sorry I won't be there to deliver it really, it looks really good on paper!

Then this afternoon it is the last of our swap-around sessions and I have Y1 for music.

It's been a lovely week. As an occasional, well worth doing. I think most of us miss the usual 'landmarks' to the day/week that give predictability and stability though, and it will be good to get back into our familiar routines again. Some need them more than others, but all benefit in one way or another, adults and children alike, I think.

And, of course, there's just two days until half term. Phew.

Wednesday 16 February 2011

Wednesday evening.

Multi cultural week is going great. The littlies have now taken to Conga-ing, Caribbean style, everywhere, whether it be to another classroom or out to play. In afternoon play today virtually the whole of the Infant department was in one ginormous congal line, bouncing around the playground, having an amazing time. It was a sight to behold and I wish I'd had my camera available! I wonder what the neighbours thought!

After school it was the second of the Makaton sessions so K and I duly whizzed straight off to get there on time. I wondered how I was ever going to stay awake but it was so interactive and enjoyable that I had no trouble at all.

Mind you - I'm now struggling. I really can't go to bed at just after seven. I would be awake by two, ready for a new day. Perish the thought! So I'm going to have to keep fighting the drowsiness for an hour or so. It's a battle I need to win.

Wednesday morning

Two down, three to go!

I'm finding it difficult to get my brain cells together (all three of them) to create a coherent post this morning after not having slept terribly well overnight. So rather than make a fool of myself I will just say 'Have a good day' and hope that things get back to usual again soon! :0)

Tuesday 15 February 2011

Tuesday morning

. . . and for once I am really quite miffed that it's PPA and coordinator time as there's a great morning's work all based on Caribbean fruit, starting with the story of Anansi and the talking melon! Ah, well, one has to take the rough with the smooth in this life!! The children will enjoy it anyway.

It's a whole lot colder this morning. When I popped out to put something in the freezer, I was astonished that there did not seem to be a frost: it felt cold enough for one, that's for sure. Maybe there was earlier. If it doesn't warm up I think it will be coats on today for playtimes.

I've just realised that yesterday was the last Monday for a term that I do not have to do playground duty. With our size of staff we have four half terms on one day a week and two off. My next 'off' is the last half term of the year.

Mustn't wish my life away though - I'm going to be late if I don't get a move on, so better go and have a quick bath! Deal with the present and the future can take care of itself just for now.

Monday 14 February 2011

Monday evening

. . . and I'm worn out, but what a great day it has been. The first day of our multi-cultural week, a mum in to talk about her holiday in the Caribbean (many thanks to her) and a great half hour with some steel drums (and the lovely people who play them, of course), which ended up with the whole class conga-ing around the hall most energetically! Such brilliant fun.

I was wrong about the weather - the rain disappeared, the sun came out and we all went out to play without coats on - incredible for February. What a very strange winter we are having, to be sure. Snow days before Christmas, mild enough for no coats in the middle of February. No complaints from me, of course.

I've just finished watching one of my favourite Doctor Who? repeats . . . the one where he and Amy meet Vincent. Such a funny, heartbreaking, whimsical episode. I think that one and Blink stand head and shoulders above all the others - oh, maybe The Empty Child also shines.
Can't wait for the next series!

Hope I sleep well tonight. I think I will need it!

Monday morning

The start of a different week and one that should be very interesting and enjoyable. A shame the weather doesn't seem to be living up to it - it looks very damp and dreary out there at the moment. Fingers crossed that it will brighten up as the day breaks.

A short blog this morning but I'll be back this evening!

Sunday 13 February 2011

Sunday evening

What a very pleasant day it's been. Quiet, gentle, unstressed . . .

It was an absolute delight going over to DD's to see the kittens, now about ten weeks old and absolutely adorable. It was relaxing to sit down this afternoon, knitting needles in hand, idly watching Jamie produce gourmet meals in thirty minutes as I clickety clacked my way through more of my tea cosy (the first half is now done) and it was satisfying (and expensive) to book the next Infant Social, an evening of bowling, online. The last should be tremendous fun and I'm very much looking forward to it.

Oh, and if anyone was concerned about the fate of the detested pickled onions - I managed to farm them off onto one of my guests. Phew!

Life can be so very good sometimes.

Sunday morning later on

I had rather a lot of ham left over after the get together yesterday and had reconciled myself to ham with everything over the next few days: ham and eggs, ham and salad, ham and tomatoes, ham porridge, ham yogurt . . . ;0)

But then I had a look for some leftover recipes and found one for a ham loaf, using minced cooked ham, oats, ground cloves, mustard, milk and egg. It has a pineapple glaze topping too, made with brown sugar, vinegar and pineapple pieces. It's an American recipe and the portions are LARGE. I made half the quantity of the recipe and the full amount said to serve eight. What I have made will easily serve six and that's what I'm going to cut it into - six generous slices.

I haven't tasted it yet, but it's cooked and cooling and it smells very, very nice indeed. So that's all the ham used apart from one good slice for dinner today! Excellent!

I've not posted many photos lately, mainly because I haven't taken any, but here's one of the large space in the raised bed where George cleared a plant that was threatening to take over the whole garden. You can see how big it was from the space that it's left. I want to move the chives (the little green spikes just in front of the rosemary bush) over to the right hand side and have a small bush or two on the left, maybe with herbs all along the right side, next to the chives. The rosemary is getting a bit woody too - can one take cuttings?
There's so much potential in a cleared patch, isn't there?

Sunday morning

When my friends visited yesterday, one of them brought with them a neat hearing aid gadget. It was a thingy that enables the user to switch to the loop thingy on their hearing aid when watching telly. It's good too. It certain gives a clear and audible sound, possibly a little tinny, but that clarifies the sound more and is not unpleasant in the least. I have it here to try out for a while but if early impressions are maintained, I guess I will be saving my pennies to buy one for myself.

Today I am looking forward to doing some more sustained knitting than I have been able to do during the week. I ought to have finished the second tea cosy by now and I'm still on the first side. Not good. In-between knitting sessions, I have a bit of school work to be getting on with, so today will be nice and quiet and purposeful too. No cleaning or dusting (unless you count my bedroom, of course) but I must do some washing, drying and ironing if I am to have any clothes for the coming week!

Better go and put the first load in then!

Saturday 12 February 2011

Saturday late afternoon

All the guests have gone. The house, which was ringing with love and laughter, is now silent again. The tables are cleared and the dishwasher is fulfilling its prime directive. I have a clean, tidy house (well, apart from my bedroom) and there's a very restful feeling in the air. On the table is a pretty pot containing three hyacinths, a gift from a friend, which will be scenting the air beautifully in a few days and, when planted in the garden after the leaves have died back, will give me great pleasure for years to come. The hyacinth bulbs, I mean, not the pot! :0)

The tear and share cheese and onion bread, made last weekend and frozen, was the hit of the meal, definitely one to make again, without a doubt. I think next time I will add some garlic puree as well. Frozen in small amounts for convenient use, it will be scrummy with pizza, lasagna or bolognaise.

So now I am looking forward to a quiet, restful evening. Judging by the amount of food left over, I will not need to cook for a few days to come, even after sharing some with DD. I bought the Times this morning, so I'm looking forward to a leisurely read, accompanied by a glass of nice red and some home made sponge cake. Lovely!

Saturday morning

Well, here we are, later than usual, but with a couple of hours of tidying and cleaning behind me. The bits that show are now looking reasonably respectable and I just need to do a bit more wiping over and then Dyson the carpets. That gives me plenty of time to shop and sort out the food and drink before my guests arrive at about midday.

I do wish I wasn't the sort of person who tends to leave things until the last minute. However, I am and I have to live with that. I have tried being more foresighted but it just didn't work all that well and I found that everything got done slower. It didn't seem to save time but gobble more time up without that sense of urgency that drives me on. I can't imagine I'm the only one, even though others do seem to be more on top of things earlier and my mum despairs of me!

Once they have all gone and I've cleared up, I intend to have a lazy, gentle rest of the day before some intensive planning and research tomorrow before Multi-Cultural Week starts on Monday. Not that I will be as involved with it as my colleagues, despite helping to organise. Tuesday morning is PPA and coordinator time, Thursday morning I'm off for more CASPA training and Friday is my SEN day. Oh, and half an hour off on Wednesday afternoon too.

Next week will be different and it will be tiring but once it is over, it's half term. Half way through the school year. Time to start thinking about school reports. I bet you don't miss them, Joan - they're one of the few things I will be thankful to lay down and leave behind when I retire! If I could see much point to them I might feel differently, but to spend weeks on something that might be looked at a couple of times and then either thrown away or filed in some murky folder somewhere really doesn't make a lot of sense. And before anyone is offended, I know there are exceptions, but not weeks' worth of them.

Better get going again. Now, where did I hide the Dyson?

Friday 11 February 2011

Friday morning

And here we are, back at Friday again. Thank goodness I'm feeling a lot better this Friday than I was last Friday. I'm also feeling somewhat rushed as a load of people are descending on me tomorrow for a family lunch and the place is in something of a mess right now! It's mostly superficial but I will need to bustle around this evening so that tomorrow morning can be spent on food related stuff.

As I've already mentioned in a previous blog, I'm going to make it a sort of ploughman's buffet. So that's cheeses, ham and pork pie with cherry tomatoes, celery, coleslaw, pickled onions and chutneys. The pickled onions are a real concession. Personally, I cannot abide the things but . . .

And then there's a selection of breads. The tear and share cheese and onion that I made last week, some soda bread, some crusty white rolls and some Doris Grant loaf. I just need to buy some batons or similar, I think.

I think dessert will be just fresh fruit, unless I see anything particularly nice in Morrisons this evening or feel energised to make my own - flapjacks and muffins come to mind as I type this, so maybe . . .!
I was going to make cheese scones but I really think there's more than enough savoury stuff so I will save that idea for another time. I was going to make biscotti too, but . . . well, we will see. I'd like to but time might be against me here.

It's SEN day today and, after missing it last week, it's full of stuff to do. I will miss my class though. They've been really lovely this week and have worked well. Their instruction sentences were really rather good and - and - nearly everyone remembered to put a full stop at the end of each sentence. Yippee!!!!

Little things make teachers happy!

Thursday 10 February 2011

Thursday evening

. . . and weather did not permit so no games. I shifted maths up to this morning and realised that I had an afternoon to fill with something or other, so we did some art. We haven't done art for a wee while now. There was a very tenuous link with literacy - they watched me produce a 'string painting', then we all went back to the IWB and the children helped me to produce a set of instructions, all beginning with that necessary imperative verb, of course. Then they followed the instructions. There was just time for all the children to produce a painting before it was time to tidy up and great fun was had all round.

I've just come back from T's house. Another of the school get-togethers, mostly the TAs and LSAs but I guess I must be an honorary TA/LSA because I always get invited along anyway. There weren't all that many of us: illness has taken its toll and people who are managing to get to work are not then fit to go out in the evening, bless them. I found myself falling asleep after a couple of hours so made my excuses and left. It was fun, though. It's good to take a more light-hearted look at everyday things and have a bit of a giggle as we do so. Many thanks, T.

Which reminds me - MUST remember to book the bowling for next Friday evening! I wonder if I can book online . . .

Thursday morning

I'm rather looking forward to literacy this morning, after they did so well with it yesterday. It's all about writing instructions, starting with the imperative verb, and then how to extend the instruction to contain more information.

Then it's games (weather permitting) and this afternoon it's maths. A simple day, thank goodness, with not too much to-ing and fro-ing. Quite settling and happy. Good for them and certainly good for me.

I like Thursdays.

Wednesday 9 February 2011

Wednesday evening

Sadly, the combined staff meeting didn't come off. I don't know why, but I'm sad that it didn't. Hopefully it can be re-scheduled at some point. As a result we all had a cosy, internal stuff meeting with plenty of banter and laughter. Nice.

It's been another lovely day. After my unexpected absences last week, the children have become very loving and 'huggy' and no longer am I having to be 'severe' with the pickles. I can say what I want to say and smile and they know that I mean what I say. I feel we've taken a huge, ginormous step forward in lots of ways in recent weeks, and I really look forward to going in each day to work with them.

I've said it before and I'll more than likely say it again. I'm just SO lucky! There's nothing like teaching, and teaching littlies is The Very Best There Is! So satisfying. I am content.

Wednesday morning

Feeling a whole lot brighter this morning after a very good night's sleep with, as far as I can tell, just one short wakey spell that couldn't have lasted more than about five minutes in total. Maybe that virus, whatever it was, is losening its grip at last. Here's hoping.

Today is always an interesting day. Wednesdays is Reading Revelry, phonics, ICT suite time, library (every second week and this week is one of them,), show and tell . . . all nicely planned and not requiring much in the way of complicated resources. There's literacy as well, of course, and no half an hour's PPA because S is off with the year threes to Duxford for the day. This means I have to take show and tell (oh, dear!).

Staff meeting should be interesting. We are meeting with another local school to look at maths planning and delivery with, I gather, a special focus on differentiation within the maths lesson. It's always good to get head to head with colleagues working in a different environment and I am sure we will all learn much practical and useful stuff on the way.

So that's today!

Tuesday 8 February 2011

Tuesday evening

Big apologies for the lack of blog this morning. I woke up feeling pretty horrible and couldn't summon up the energy. Pathetic, isn't it? I did get to school and things did get slowly better through what turned out to be a pretty pleasant day, especially in the afternoon.

Over the lunch hour I hurriedly planned a P4C (philosophy for children) lesson after something that came up in the morning and, though I say it myself, it really went well. I was thrilled.

Now I'm fighting to stay awake (so what's new?) but at half past six, there's no way I'm going to go to bed. I'd be awake for the new day by shortly after midnight!

Monday 7 February 2011

Monday evening

. . . and I was right. Death warmed up would be a positive description of how I feel right now.

Don't get me wrong. It's been a lovely day. When I saw my class I realised over again how important they are to me. They're lovely, warts and all, and I have missed them while I've been away. But I'm home now and I'm utterly exhausted. Whatever this virus was, it's taken a lot out of me, one way and another.

It's been a good day though. Really can't complain.

Monday morning

. . . and it's back to school. I feel like the Shakespeare schoolboy - creeping unwillingly to school - but I am sure the energy levels will rise once I'm there and they will have to emerge fully once the children have arrived.

It's just an 'ordinary' day today, if working with little children can ever be called such a thing. Apart from violins, there's nothing special going on (except for my wonderful teaching, of course - cough, cough) and, hopefully, things should go smoothly after the ups and downs of last week.

I'm not swimming though - I think that by the end of the day I will be very tired and fit for nothing more than coming home and resting with my knitting. I can always change my mind if this isn't the case, but I don't want to push it through and then find that I'm all in the next day, which was what happened over the weekend.

It seems awfully near half term now - just two weeks to go. And then we are half way through the school year. That's scary!

Sunday 6 February 2011

Sunday evening

Just a quick one. Several years ago I planted four or five snowdrop bulbs. Just bogstandard pretty, single, white snowdrops, For some years they faithfully came up, just where I planted them. Last year there were more, still close by.

This year they are all over the middle bed, not thickly clustered, but give them a few years and they will be. How they have spread is beyond me. Have they secretly been digging underground tunnels? Have the teenagers been leaving home to work elsewhere in the bed? Who knows? But they're extremely pretty and a very welcome sight in these dreary winter months.

Sunday later on

Making bread is a great way of getting rid of excess energy and a great (legal) substitute for bashing the living daylights out of someone, I've decided. Earlier on I spent a most enjoyable ten minutes making bread dough the good, old-fashioned way, discovering that bread kneading is like swimming or riding a bike - you never really forget how to do it. I could have made the dough in the bread machine, but decided I rather fancied doing it by hand. A most satisfying experience it was too! I wonder if WLR gives the calories burnt. After all, done properly it's great exercise!
(Joy goes over to look)
Nope, it doesn't! What a shame. ;0)

Anyway - the bread has just come out of the oven and oh, my goodness, it looks, smells and tastes absolutely gorgeous. One to remember, without any shadow of doubt. The house smells divine too - better than any spray one could buy. The hardest bit was actually getting it off the baking tray in one piece and next time I think it would be sensible to make two smaller loaves. You can find the recipe here with a link to the dough itself half way through the recipe.

I did it a bit different, of course. No bacon because I want DD to have some, and the herb was sage, roughly chopped and mixed with the onion and sprigs of rosemary wiped over with oil and laid across the top, as rosemary can be vicious in the mouth. I softened the onion for ages in a mixture of butter and olive oil and stirred in the shredded sage at the end. The cheese was kept separate, it was grated and a little got kneaded into the dough as well. Oh, and I sprinkled over a little Maldon sea salt.

A few little nodules fell off so, of course, I had to try them. Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm . . .

The photos are firstly of the dough and then of the finished loaf.

I must be strong, I must be strong, I must be . . .

Sunday morning

Good morning (or afternoon or whatever). It's very early in the morning and I've been up for quite a while, unloaded and reloaded the dishwasher, cleaned round the kitchen, rinsed and re-soaked the ham and spent some time on the PC. I think, as it's Sunday, I will go back to bed for a bit more sleep in a little while.
No swimming today. I rather overdid it yesterday, I think, and think it's probably sensible not to try to push it through again today. I have to be back at work tomorrow!

So what's on the list for today?

Well, the bedroom, of course, isn't it always? Will it actually get done today? Goodness knows. It ought to be a priority, considering the state that it is in, but somehow there's always something more important (aka 'interesting') to do.

I will be boiling up a piece of gammon ham this morning to have hot for dinner and then cold for various meals, etc, during the week. It's from one of the gammons I got reduced just after Christmas and it does look a very nice piece. There's nothing nicer than home cooked gammon! If the stock is not too salty (and I hope it won't be, because it's been soaking overnight) I will use it to make a ham and pea soup for next weekend.

As next Saturday will be bread and cheese day, I found a recipe for a sort of tear and share cheesy bread which I want to make this morning (and then freeze). As always, the cheese content doesn't look enough and I'm sure my hand will 'slip' while grating and adding it to the dough. It's funny how that always happens, isn't it? I might add some onion too - the recipe doesn't say onion, but cheese and onion have such a taste affinity and it is for a glorified ploughman's lunch!

And the last culinary thing on the list is to make some more biscotti, like the biscotti I made for Christmas pressies. Middle Brother said he really liked it so I thought I'd do some more and he can take some home with him. Unfortunately I couldn't get pistachios so I am substituting pecans instead. Not really the same, but still very delicious. I might add some cinnamon or something too, to give it a spice edge.

I am ridiculously chuffed with my little tea cosy (see photo, which is shockingly bad quality but shows what it's like a little bit). The flower on the top is the first pattern in the book I mentioned yesterday. I think it's really cute and I think I will now make a couple of egg cosies to match, which won't take any time at all. Won't my breakfast be coordinated nicely?

And isn't 'cosy' a lovely, evocative, comfortable word? It hints of warm fires, hot buttered toast and snuggly slippers with the wind howling outside and the snow swirling around the chimney pot. Utter satisfaction!

Better go and get the ham on, I suppose. I have to decide whether I want to bake it after boiling or not. Decisions, decisions!

Saturday 5 February 2011

Saturday: a little later on

. . . and I'm very proud to announce that I went swimming, managed twenty minutes of it before the tiredness, aches and shakes returned and then had a wonderful ten minutes in the hot spa until I felt normal again. After that I wandered into Matalan (because it's there) and then drove to Hobbycraft.

Now, I've been avoiding Hobbycraft since my first visit when I gave my bank manager palpitations and it hadn't been on the list of Things To Do, but I swear to you, the car just took me there. Honest!! It couldn't have been me!

Yes, I bought stuff I don't strictly *need*. Yes, I spent money (what else would I spend) and yes, I'm jolly chuffed with what I got. More wool, some needles, some crochet hooks, four stacking plastic boxes (on special and for the shed) and a book entitled 100 Flowers to Knit and Crochet (see the photo, which I found on Google here). It's beautiful. It shows me how to make so much - pansies, forget-me-nots, roses, poppies, various leaves and there's even a wee ladybird in there too. Guess what I'm doing this afternoon. Did I hear someone say 'tidying your bedroom?' Naaaah - what a silly idea! :0)

I made chocolate flapjacks and, as usual, half of them fell apart. Ho hum. However, Miss Frugal of Chelmsford wasn't phased. Dear me, no, I've collected up all the bits and they will make scrummy topping an crumble or on ice cream, yogurt or whatever. I'll freeze them and scoop out what I need when I need it. Must have another go at the flapjacks though, when I've bought some more porridge oats. And next time I will leave them in the tin for longer, much longer.

But now I'm worn out and am going to sit and have a rest.

Saturday morning

. . . and I've made a resolution to try not to grumble too much. Goodness knows, I've done enough over this last week to last the rest of the month! So it's positive forward looking for me . . . a-a-a-tishoo!!!

I think I'll go swimming this morning. I'll feel a huge amount better afterwards, I'm sure, and I need some exercise. Then it's back home in time for George and after that it's housework for a while. Housework and shopping are today's chores. Especially important is tackling my bedroom (yes, again), which has degenerated into a horrible, messy pile of dumped stuff. I'm sure that's a reason for my restless sleep recently and it needs dealing with! Today's the day!!

One of the LSAs at school gave me a recipe for flapjacks. Chocolate flapjacks, to be honest. They look great and I need something to give to George after all his work, so I'm giving them a whirl. They will be cut into titchy little squares and popped into the freezer until next week. Out of sight, out of mind, as the saying goes.

After several false starts and in-between coughs, sneezes and sleeps, I did manage to make a little tea cosy for my smallest tea pot yesterday It looks cute! I will christen it this morning by having a cuppa with my titchy taste of flapjack rather than coffee.

Better go and get started, I suppose!

Friday 4 February 2011

Friday evening

I'm feeling terribly idle after a dressing-gown day, a not-at-achool day, a do-no-housework day and a try-to-knit-a-tea-cosy day. I'm out of practise with the knitting and now some of my fingers are sore. Never mind, I've nearly finished a little cosy for my smallest teapot, the one that holds one mug or two cups of tea.

The worst thing about being off school like this is that one isn't feeling well enough to enjoy it. That just doesn't seem fair. :0)

Friday morning

. . . and I'm definitely not going into school: no way do I want to spread this whatever-it-is to the children or my colleagues. I didn't sleep all that well and the aches are uncomfortable. Hopefully I will be able to doze in the recliner at a few points today.

If I can get my brain around it, I found a free pattern for an old fashioned tea cosy which I would like to knit. I have a cosy for the big teapot but not for the two smaller ones. I like tea cosies!
Apart from that which I may get going with, I have no plans for today except to rest, keep up the fluids and get well again.

It's a right pain - it is my SEN day and I have a whole load of paperwork building up. Grrrrr . . .

Thursday 3 February 2011

Thursday evening

. . . and I've had a little play with the settings and changed stuff. That snowy background was getting a bit dull and I fancied a change. It's certainly brighter now!

Thursday lunchtime

. . . and I've been sent home! I guess they couldn't bear the thought of me spreading my germs generously around. I have to admit, it's a huge relief and I'm looking forward to having a rest this afternoon.

Thursday morning

Yes, that early night meant an early awakening. I have plenty of work to fill the extra time, so no problems. However, I did sleep rather fitfully which is likely to be a combination of cold and lack of swimming. I think I will take my kit with me to school but whether I will actually go swimming depends on whether I feel up to it. We will see.

Today I am out of class for the morning. The local (and outstanding) Special School is very keen on sharing its expertise with other schools in the community and we (LSAs/TAs and SENCOs) have already been on their excellent Autism Awareness course which was far, far better than anything the LEA provided. Our teaching staff will also have the same training later on. Something the Local Delivery Group enabled was for the school to share its use of an excellent SEN assessment tool, called CASPA and today the head and I are going there, laptop in bag, to copy CASPA onto the laptop and have some training in how to use it. It should be very interesting indeed.

And today I will be trying to use Makaton with the children. I can sign 'come here and sit down, please (or thank you!)' - that's a start! When I told them yesterday what I was going to do after school there were some very interested little faces so I guess they will enjoy seeing and using some of the signs. And K and I have to practise!

Wednesday 2 February 2011

Wednesday evening

The first Makaton session turned out to be very good indeed. Lots of fun, very practical and full of new things. The next one is in a fortnight and I'm very much looking forward to it!

Apart from that, it's been a sneezy, eye watery, achey, shivery day. Moan, moan, moan!!! I'm falling asleep now, my eyes won't stay open, so I'm off for a very early night which means a very early start tomorrow morning, but that's OK. I like early mornings.

Sleep well.

Wednesday morning

I got a surprise when I opened up iGoogle this morning. Snowing in Chelmsford it announced. No, said I and rushed to check. I was right. It isn't, thank goodness! It looks and feels cold and damp though and I am glad I have to take the car this morning (off to a course straight after school) rather than feel obliged to walk.

Why feel obliged? Well, for various reasons, my exercise has been zero this week. No swimming since Saturday and no dance exercise yesterday. There won't be any swimming today either. I'm missing it - I'm missing the effects of it. Maybe tomorrow, after school. Fingers crossed.

As for today, it's almost entirely in class, with my class. Jolly nice too! And after school, K and I whizz straight off to another local school to start a six session course on Makaton, something we have both wanted to do for absolutely ages. I'm sure you will hear more about that in due course.

Tuesday 1 February 2011

Tuesday evening

. . . and here I am all on my oney-oh! My poor friend's ankle is very painful and swollen and she isn't coming. Fair enough, I wouldn't want to drive if it was me. So now I have rather a lot of eggs, fruit and cottage cheese to deal with. I've just made a curry (or several) with the chicken we were going to have tonight so that's even more in the freezer. I think I will label it 'S*****'s Surprise!!'

Mind you, maybe it's just as well she's not here (not that she's hurt herself though). This cold is not much fun and I would hate to share it with her. Generosity does have its limits after all and some things are better kept to oneself. I could face neither dance nor swimming so I came home, turned the heating up high, got a cover and snuggled under it for a while. And I'm heading back there shortly; even with the heating up I'm feeling cold and shivery.

Another early night calleth, I suspect.

Tuesday morning

Back to school after the INSET yesterday and Lara and I are straight into our PPA, followed by my coordinator time and more observation of Foundation Stage.

My visitors are supposed to be arriving today but I'm now not sure if they are able to come, which is something of a blow. An ankle injury means that they might not be able to make the drive to get here, understandably. I know just how painful they can be, having been very prone to going over on my ankle myself. We will see, fingers crossed that a night's rest has helped the healing process enough.

I'd just about decided not to go to dance exercise because of the arriving guests, but whatever happens I doubt I will go, as the cold that was hovering over the weekend has landed with a vengeance and what with the sort throat and aching limbs, I doubt that kind of exercise will be very help. If S & M can't come, I might possibly go for a short swim, but we will see. I'm not going to push it when feeling off colour. That's the best way I know to end up comfort eating and, given the weekend indulgences and the inevitable weight gain, that's the last thing I want to do!

What a miserable blog post this morning!! Sorry, everyone, I'm sure normal service will be resumed very soon, the sooner the better.