Tuesday 31 December 2013

Tuesday

Good morning!

Yesterday was a funny old day, a mixture of pleasant and not so pleasant.  The weather reflected this with sun, rain, calm and wind all chasing each other around the day.

Beth came over and we started trying to put our Christmas book together.  The first job was to choose a providor and, unfortunately, the first one we tried (which was the best value) turned out to be so inflexible and awkward to use that we really couldn't be bothered to push it through any longer.  We ended up with Vistaprint.  Not the cheapest but it worked for us.  We downloaded software which gave us so much flexibility and it was fun working through the pages.  We didn't get it finished but that's OK as it is all safely stored on my hard drive ready for the next time we can get together.

I now need to start another one - one that reflects the holidays we have spent at Streele Farm over the namy years.  That's going to be a bit more complicated but should be worth it.

Another thing that was up and down was the way I was feeling.  I think I'm fighting another virus.  Booooo.  Anyway, after finishing this I might go back up and see if I can get a bit more sleep, which might help.  Anyway, I kept falling asleep all evening despite some interesting telly.  Maybe I am just catching up!

I've realised I haven't posted any Christmas photos (or photos I took over last week) so over the next few days I will do that.  Here's the first!!

One of my lovely Christmas owls!

Finally, it is the end of the year.  In many ways it has been a good year for me and I'm grateful for that and for all the lovely (and, occasionally, not-so-lovely) people who make life so interesting.  I am particularly grateful to all of you who have stuck with my bloggy ramblings - you have my thanks and an encouragement to leave a comment now and again.  I'd love to hear from you.

Here's a card for you with my wishes for a Happy New Year for us all.  Just click on this link.


Monday 30 December 2013

Monday

The second week of the Christmas holiday although I don't feel that I have had much holiday so far.  I'm taking it a lot easier this week, believe me.

Yesterday was good.  The pie I made was delicious, as was the ice cream, so we ate well for lunch.  Today will be mostly leftovers (of leftovers) but I am seeing light at the end of the food tunnel and it's not been as bad as previous years.  Inevitably I have thrown a few things away, but not too much.

I have a lot of fruit to use up, which isn't such a bad thing and should help to clear the palate after all the festive excesses.

Today is going to be idle and easy (I hope) with not a lot on except going through the Christmas photos and selecting some for a book.  Should be good.


Sunday 29 December 2013

Sunday

I had great plans for yesterday, very few of which came to fruition.  I did manage to finish sorting out the turkey, thank goodness, and now have pots of stock and bits and bobs to keep me going through January.
I also made some Christmas ice cream (recipe in Teacher's Recipes) which is very delicious.  The rest will get done today as I really MUST sort out the fridge.

After Mum and dad had gone, I just crashed.  Slept in the morning, slept in the afternoon, even fell asleep during a Poirot I hadn't seen before and then slept all through the night, waking much later that usual.  I must have needed it, for sure.

So today:
Beth and Alex are over so I need to make a dinner.  Shouldn't be too tricky.
Washing - before it takes the house over.
Ironing (over telly this evening)
Fridge (sort out, de-clutter, clean, etc)
Tidy kitchen and living room.  It doesn't take too long for me to get back into my usually slattern-ish ways!
Stay awake!

I think I will make a turkey and ham pie for Alex and me and I have something bought and vegetarian for Beth.  With it we will have red cabbage, roast potatoes and sprouts.  The Christmas ice cream will do for dessert and I still have some orange flavoured cream to go on the top.   Yum!

Breakfast is toast and pate (needs using up) and tea will be cream of turkey soup.  That should do!

And now I need to get started.



Saturday 28 December 2013

Saturday

There's no doubt about it, Christmas is lovely.  All the preparations, the anticipations and the celebrations combine together to make it a very special time.  I'm old enough not to expect too much of Christmas.  No parties, no energetic knees up, just a gentle, fairly quiet family time with our own little traditions and habits.  As a result, I am rarely disappointed.  Last year was the only real disappointment I can remember and that was because I had flu and it was cancelled!!

This year has been one of the best for me.  Granted, a couple of traditions have gone by the board, but that's OK.  Everything has gone well: games have been played, meals have been enjoyed and leftovers are exercising my culinary brain.  It's all been great.

Today the last of my visitors head home.  I will be alone again.  You know what - it's nice to have loved ones here but it's also nice to be alone again.  I'm used to it, I appreciate the quietness, the lack of any pressure, the freedom to do what I want, when I want and how I want.  Today is going to be peaceful, even though I have a pile of washing and, as a result, ironing to do and a fridge to sort out and reorganise.  I have time, I can do it slowly and while watching telly, reading my books, snoozing under my lovely owly fleece . . .

The turkey has finally been dismantled.  The inedible bits have been discarded and the last stock is slowly reducing on the hob as I type.  It carved very well so there wasn't a lot more meat to get off the carcass but there's enough to give Beth's cats a post-Christmas treat.  There's still some brown and white meat to finish off and my guests will take some home with them while I will freeze the rest.

There's some christmas pudding left, some custard and some cream.  I thought I might whisk the custard and the some of the cream together, make ice cream with it the usual way (because someone has borrowed my ice cream maker) and, on the final whisking, add some crumbled up pudding to make Christmas pudding ice cream.  I might add a couple of mince pies too, as I have a few left over.  It'll taste good because the ingredients are all good!
Then there's some bubble and squeak patties to freeze for another meal another day, some more cream to make into butter and all sorts of bits and bobs to deal with.  Just my kind of day, in fact!!

I have set myself a challenge and that is to not do any food shopping for at least a fortnight (apart from milk and, perhaps, a few veg).  That should be very achievable and I will eat well, that's a fact.  It's back on the frugal bandwagon for me with perhaps one little blip over New Year, although at the moment I crave simple food and not too much of it!

Reading back over what might be viewed as a somewhat smug and self-satisfied pondering (sorry, I didn't set out to be), I remind myself that, for some, this will have been one of the worse Christmasses.  I don't mean those in parts of the world where just existing is a struggle or those who live in war-torn strife (althought they are often on my mind and conscience), I mean those who were, like me, anticipating a lovely time, invested much time, energy and resouces into creating something good and lovely  but found their plans and hopes destroyed by appalling weather and its aftermath.

I hope all my readers have been safe, warm and dry over these last stormy weeks and that you remain so in the weeks to come.



Friday 27 December 2013

Friday: sort of getting back to 'normal'

Sort of . . .

Today is turkey day.  Yesterday I had planned to have a turkey dinner with turkey heated in gravy and leftovers used uo.  As it happened, the buffet lunch I planned just grew and grew and none of us wanted a 'dinner' come the evening so we had a wee bit of turkey on french bread, a few crisps and a couple of biscuits, all washed down with a cuppa tea and that was that!

So today is turkey day.

I plan to make a chunky turkey soup for lunch.  Nothing to complicated - just saute some chunks of veg in turkey and bacon fat, add some turkey stock and simmer until all soft and delicious.  Then pop in some hunks of turkey and that's it.  There will be seasonings, of course, but I'll work those out as I go!

Then dinner will be what it should have been yesterday because if it isn't I shall have to throw away some stuff and I don't want to do that!  So it will be slices of turkey heated in the gravy, some Christmas veg cakes, some red cabbage and some broccoli, as a sop to freshness.  Then there's cranberry, apple and orange sauce, bread sauce and stuffing to finish off too.  Should be a grand dinner for very little effort.

The rest of the turkey will be picked over and the little bits sent in Beth's direction as a treat for her cats.  I intend to boil up the carcass to extract the last little bit of goodness (and meat).  Bone meal is supposed to be good for the soil - I wonder if I could then grind up the bones in Thermione?

Apart from that, weather permitting, we're really hoping to go over to Beth's to see the new kittens who are all doing really well and gaining weight rapidly, bless them.

Should be a good day but I ought to get going or half of it won't get done!

Thursday 26 December 2013

Thursday: Boxing Day

Good morning.  I hope everyone is feeling good and has had a lovely Christmas.  We were lucky with the weather - quite a lot of sun and the really strong winds seem to have more or less missed us out, although I gather the night of the 23rd/24th was quite bad.  However, once my hearing aids are out I hear very little so no problems there!  I hope none of my readers has been too troubled by the storm.

Yesterday started very early because I didn't sleep all that well so decided to come down and make better use of the time.  I took the turkey out of the fridge for its two hours of 'coming up to room temperature' and arranged everything into a sensible order in the kitchen.  After a lot of mental faffing around I decided to put the turkey in an hour earlier, 'just in case', allowing for an hour's resting time at the end.  Well, the poor bird ended up with two hours resting time, didn't it!!!

I've never had such an easy time with a turkey.  A cut up onion, orange and lemon inside and that was it.  No stuffing, no trussing, no rubbing over with anything, no bacon over the breast to keep it moist.
It went into mum's roasting dish (none of mine are big enough and it seems very silly to buy a big dish for one day in the year) upside down and into the hottest oven I  could get which was then immediately turned down to 180C.  Two and a half hours later I turned it over and that was the hardest part of the whole process.

 Half an hour after that it was done.  I frantically prodded all over with the thermometer to check but all was good so it went under a huge pile of towels to rest.  As I said, it's never been so easy and so trouble free and I may reconsider my decision not to get a KellyBronze next year, just so I can repeat the experience - I can save up for it!  It was also delicious, which is the main thing, and the stock that came off it was wonderful.  Being the kind it is, there's also a lot of turkey dripping which I, for one, am going to have on my toast this morning with a bit of salt sprinkled over.  Not healthy but once a year won't hurt.

There's loads left over so we shall have turkey again for dinner tonight and then tomorrow I will do the necessary with the stock pot!  Turkey hotpot - mmmmmmmmmmm.  Beth has also laid claim to bits for her cats who go crazy for it.

After dinner us golden oldies were shoo-ed out of the kitchen and the younger generation did all the clearing, tidying washing up and so on, for which I was hugely grateful.  I daresay I shall be finding things in odd places for the next little while but I don't care two hoots, it was so lovely of them.

The rest of the day passed in a bit of a haze, although we had a good game of Scrabble and then they had another game while I went into the kitchen to prepare a buffet tea.  I thought no-one would eat much but I was surprised, most of it went and the teenager's place was piled high.

Today I have seven for lunch but that will be another buffet which is very easy to do.  Dinner this evening is just three and most of that is already done as it will be leftovers.  I just have to cook a vegetable and I think it will be broccoli.  Yesterday's roasted root vegetables will heat up a treat, as will the gravy (which worked out fine) and everything else!

I'm hoping I can rest a bit today and, if I can, I will snuggle under my gift from Beth, a beautiful, double layered fleece blanket with cute owls on one side and a lovely deep fawn colour the other side.  It's so cosy and just perfect for the cold days when I'm not bustling around and keeping myself warm.  If my hands are cold I can use the owly hand warmers Alex gave me!

I've waffled on for long enough.  If you've managed to get to the end, well done.  Have a good day!



Wednesday 25 December 2013

Was the turkey a turkey?

Well, I have to admit that there's something to be said for the new fangled way.
No foil, no bacon, no butter under the skin and definitely no stuffing (that was cooked separately).
Cooked upside down (or maybe I mean the right way up) and turned over (with some difficulty) for the last half an hour.
Three hours from start to finish and beautifully done.
A shame it's taken me so long to be brave enough to follow the Kelly recommended method.  But now I know!

I'll post it over on Teacher's Recipes when I've recovered from possibly the biggest meal I have had for years!

Wednesday: Christmas Day

Here we are at last.  It's felt a long time a-coming this year what with shows and colds and concerts and kittens.

Kittens?  Yes, Beth's Tonk, Indigo, has given birth to seven Christmas Kittens (eight, in fact, but one didn't survive, sadly).  I gather that they are very cute and  are round and tubby from mamma cat's milk.

Yesterday was very busy, what with one thing and another.  The house looks pretty neat and tidy now - no, actually that's not true, not with family staying, there's a lot of bits and bobs, but it's clean and organised all the same.
The turkey is ready, not that it took much preparing as I intend to do it the modern way - breast side down, uncovered, no bacon on the top, three hours.  That's what it says and that's what I have read in all the magazines and seen on the telly.
I've remembered to get everything out of the freezer and Beth's Christmas Crumble is made up with extra topping as she likes that.

Hmmm - three hours doesn't sound much, does it?  I think I'll put it in at eighty so that I can give it another hour if necessary.
I must be brave!!!

Below is a card for all my lovely readers.  Pleaee click on the link to open it (or right click and open link).
Merry Christmas to us all.  God bless us, every one!

I have sent you a Jacquie Lawson e-card. If you haven't heard of us, you'll be pleasantly surprised! Our e-cards are known for their artistry and gentle humour.

In the Bleak Midwinter

In the bleak midwinter, frosty wind made moan, 
earth stood hard as iron, water like a stone; 
snow had fallen, snow on snow, snow on snow, 
in the bleak midwinter, long ago.

Our God, heaven cannot hold him, nor earth sustain; 
heaven and earth shall flee away when he comes to reign. 
In the bleak midwinter a stable place sufficed 
the Lord God Almighty, Jesus Christ. 

Angels and archangels may have gathered there, 
cherubim and seraphim thronged the air; 
but his mother only, in her maiden bliss, 
worshiped the beloved with a kiss. 

What can I give him, poor as I am? 
If I were a shepherd, I would bring a lamb; 
if I were a Wise Man, I would do my part; 
yet what I can I give him:  give my heart.

Tuesday 24 December 2013

The Journey of the Magi

The Journey of the Magi   by   T S Eliot

A cold coming we had of it,
Just the worst time of the year
For a journey, and such a long journey:
The ways deep and the weather sharp,
The very dead of winter.
And the camels galled, sore-footed, refractory,
Lying down in the melting snow.
There were times we regretted
The summer palaces on slopes, the terraces,
And the silken girls bringing sherbet.
Then the camel men cursing and grumbling
And running away, and wanting their liquor and women,
And the night-fires gong out, and the lack of shelters,
And the cities hostile and the towns unfriendly
And the villages dirty, and charging high prices.:
A hard time we had of it.
At the end we preferred to travel all night,
Sleeping in snatches,
With the voices singing in our ears, saying
That this was all folly.

Then at dawn we came down to a temperate valley,
Wet, below the snow line, smelling of vegetation;
With a running stream and a water-mill beating the darkness,
And three trees on the low sky,
And an old white horse galloped away in the meadow.
Then we came to a tavern with vine-leaves over the lintel,
Six hands at an open door dicing for pieces of silver,
And feet kicking the empty wine-skins.
But there was no information, and so we continued
And arrived at evening, not a moment too soon
Finding the place; it was (you may say) satisfactory.

All this was a long time ago, I remember,
And I would do it again, but set down
This set down
This: were we lead all that way for
Birth or Death? There was a Birth, certainly,
We had evidence and no doubt. I have seen birth and death,
But had thought they were different; this Birth was
Hard and bitter agony for us, like Death, our death.
We returned to our places, these Kingdoms,
But no longer at ease here, in the old dispensation,
With an alien people clutching their gods.
I should be glad of another death.

The sheepdog

"The Sheepdog" - U.A. Fanthorpe

After the very bright light, 
And the talking bird, 
And the singing, 
And the sky filled up wi' wings, 
And then the silence, 

Our lads sez 
We'd better go, then. 
Stay, Shep. Good dog, stay. 
So I stayed wi' t' sheep. 

After they'd cum back 
It sounded grand, what they'd seen. 
Camels and kings, and such, 
Wi' presents - human sort, 
Not the kind you eat - 
And a baby. Presents wes for him 
Our lads took him a lamb. 

I had to stay behind wi' t' sheep. 
Pity they didn't tek me along too. 
I'm good wi' lambs, 
And the baby might have liked a dog 
After all that myrrh and such.

Christmas Eve Tuesday

. . . and despite yesterday's big shop I found I needed to pop to Morrison's this morning for a few things.  It wasn't bad at all, no 'heaving' as they say.  Busy?  Yes, a bit, but I got a clear checkout with no need to queue so that can't be bad.  And now it IS all done.

There's a busy morning ahead of me but it's all bits and bobs, nothing heavy or hard.

Yesterday I had a go at Jamie Oliver's gravy.  It wasn't complicated, just a bit long winded, but when I'd finished I wasn't sure at all.  However, the flavours must have developed overnight because this morning it tasted delicious!  Good-oh.  Now it just needs the juices from the turkey and it should be a great tasting gravy.  My family goes a bundle on gravy and I'm never all that confident about it.

The turkey arrived mid afternoon and, as I am going to follow the instructions this year there's nothing to do really.  Can't be bad.  However, next year I think I must look else where.  Kelly's turkeys are absolutely wonderful but they are obscenely expensive.  Sad, but there you are!

Now I need to have my breakfast and get going.  Have a wonderful day, one and all, and a very merry Christmas to you.

Monday 23 December 2013

Monday

Really getting there.

Upstairs is almost completely ready although I might have a dust around before people arrive tomorrow.
The shopping is done (over-done, if truth be told) and everything that should be in the freezer is in the freezer.
Sainsburys was odd - hundreds of assistants busy stocking shelves, blocking the aisles (and very politely moving if I needed to get past), one open checkout and three shoppers - at least that's all I saw but there might have been a few more.
Getting such a large shop (I usually only shop for one) was very hard work and I'm worn out and ready to catch up with my sleep now, but I am just so thankful it's done and dusted.  Later on it will be an absolute nightmare, I reckon.

Something else that was odd was driving through such familiar streets in the dark.  The street lights go out at midnight and on again at five.  Everything looked so different and I had to concentrate very hard: not such a bad thing really!

The tree is up (many thanks to Alex and Beth) as is the nativity crib (ditto) and the house looks wonderfully festive.  That's why I like leaving it until the last sensible moment.  It's new, fresh and exciting, not something I've been looking at for weeks.

I need to create a 'cooking schedule' although really it is only a roast dinner.  We don't have starters, Thermione will cope with the custard with no hassle, Handy Andy will cope with the vegetarian option and with the pigs in blankets and the Christmas pud will heat slowly in the slow cooked throiughout the morning.

And I'm trying to be brave about the turkey which should arrive today!!  I was brought up knowing that turkey cooked long and slow and you had to get up at midnight to get it in the oven (only slight exaggeration).  However, Kelly recommends a quite different method and, Mum to the contrary, I am going to try it this year after resisting for the last goodness knows how many years.  Fingers crossed!

Now I am about to relax with a coffee and a mag and will likely go to sleep.  Nice for a Monday morning.

Sunday 22 December 2013

Money, money, money

A short time ago, while I was in Staples looking for necessary stuff, I found a money jar.  It's quite big (about 16cm tall), made of glass with a technological lid that has a slot that you push coins through and it adds up how much you have put in and gives you the total on a display.
This picture comes from Amazon but it's the same apart form the lid colour - mine's black.
I nearly didn't get it - it wasn't cheap - but went back and put it in my trolley.  Since then I've been tidying and sorting out and finding piles of loose change all over the place, feeding them into the jar as I find them.  The lid now tells me I have nearly £14 in the jar.

I was wondering how I would use the coins but on Facebook someone said that they put the coins in the self service payment thingy.  Great idea.  I know that the big supermarkets have a loose change machine but that takes a percentage whereas this way it doesn't.  I just have to make sure I do this when the shop is nearly empty because I bet it will take time to feed the coins in.

Feeling frugal!

Sunday

This has already been posted in Teacher's Recipes by mistake.  Ooops.
Quite a lot of bread made.
Delia's red cabbage made
Beth's Christmas Crumble Topping made (recipe in Teacher's Recipes)
Space cleared in fridge (in fact, clean fridge)
Space cleared in freezer
Washing done (just about but I've run out of washing liquid and REFUSE to go shopping today)
Ironing just about done (more done than it's been all year, that's for sure)
Knives sharpened
Just one bed to make up upstairs.

Woohoo!!!

I did seem to be on the go most of the day and by tea time I was seriously flagging with the aches back so I rested and that did the trick!

Today Beth and Alex come round and we put up the Christmas Tree.  Yay!
Also:
Make up that bed.
Finish the ironing
Clear more freezer space
Tidy kitchen (it got a bit messed up yesterday)
Take things to the garage

And then overnight:
Do the Big Shop and remember - it is only ONE day!!!

Saturday 21 December 2013

Saturday

Phew.  Got there!
Yesterday was enjoyable but very tiring, one way and another.  The children were very contented and happy with their toys that they had brought in, the remnants of Snow White and various handouts during the day.  Carols by Candlelight was good, although I swear a number of the infants fell asleep in the warmth and gloom (we have the blinds down and the lights off).  Then it was out for a short play before home time.

Then it was home and what a delight - the house was clean and sparkling.  Lenka had been and, as I had treated myself to two extra hours, she'd gone through the whole house, even to cleaning the inside windows.  I could feel the seasonal pressure lift as I went through the house.  Wonderful!  So I took the evening very easy again, a blessing for me because I was starting to feel ropey again and it made such a difference.   I'd had dinner at school so I just made myself some toast and that was more than enough.

I've had a wonderful night's sleep, despite a wakey spell in the middle.  I got back off to sleep again and woke just after half past six which, to me, it a really good lie in!

I have a whole list of tasks for the day, none of which is particularly onerous now the house is shiny-clean.  It doesn't include shopping as I am doing that in the depths of night on Monday morning.  I have my saved Nectar points and Sainsbury's is open overnight so it seems perfect.  Anything missing I can get from Morrisons later on.  I'm making my list and I'm having to fight the urge to put things on just because they are there!  It's one day - ONE DAY!!!  That's all!

In between times I will be resting, internet-ing and generally enjoying life.  I hope you have a good time planned too.

Friday 20 December 2013

Friday

Well, here we are.  The last day of the term, a third of the way through the school year.  One more day of not an awful lot really, finishing off with Carols by Candlelight this afternoon.

And the coldy virus thing is receding.  I went to bed early and woke just before midnight with a very sort throat.  Two pills and two glasses of water later I went to sleep to wake full of beans this morning.  Excellent, that's great timing, fingers crossed it lasts.

I can't say that the house is tidy because it isn't, but it's OK for the cleaner to work her usual magic.  Oh, it will be nice to come home to a clean home this evening.

And now I'd better go and have my bath and get ready.  No planning to follow, no resources to find or make.  Bliss!  What are the children doing, do I hear you ask?  Well - how about 'structured play'?  Or 'visual literacy'/classic traditional tales (finishing off watching Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs - or is it 'dwarves'?)?  Or RE (Advent calendar/Carols by Candlelight)?  Or creativity (paper, pencils, scissors, glue and a lot of imagination)?

And in eight hours' time . . .

Thursday 19 December 2013

Thursday

Two more days to go!  It's all getting a bit close and scary now.  How am I going to fit everything in?  Eeeeeek!

The cold is here but bearable.  I managed yesterday AND going out in the evening for Alex's Award Ceremony.  Yes, the lad has only gome and got a school prize, bless him!  We are very proud.

However, I am mighty grateful for tablets, lozenges and syrups while the hot honey and lemon I made yesterday was truly comforting!

Two days to go!

Wednesday 18 December 2013

Wednesday

Well, I didn't last out the day.  I came home at playtime feeling pretty rotten.  One feels at a real loose end in situations like this.  I wasn't feeling anything like well enough to get on with the clearing out so I sat and prepared the goody bags for the children and so on.

Today - well, I'm not sure.  Not a lot of voice and a sort throat but I think I will give it a go and see.  There's too much to do!

Tuesday 17 December 2013

Tuesday

< croak, croak > (me trying to speak!)  Ah well, better now than next week!

The carol service yesterday was just lovely.  I've never heard the children sing so well.  It was part traditional and part modern/new songs with the old readings in today's language.  Lots of parents came and it just felt so lovely and festive.

Today is coordinator time and PPA which is just as well as I don't think my voice is going to last out if I have to teach all day.  Fortunately, A is taking the lead in Infant singing, now that the show songs are over and finished, although I gather parents are still being regaled by impromptu performances at home.

And now I am back off upstairs to continue sorting out the mess.  Getting there!

Monday 16 December 2013

Monday

Five more days to go and I really can't see an awful lot of work being done.  For a start the littlies are worn out (and going down with bugsies) and can't tolerate much before getting tearful and clingy.  It's all a bit too much right now.

On the other hand, I have an awful lot to do around here.  The 'new' bedroom still smells painty but I have to move stuff back in now or I'll never have everything ready for Christmas.  Then I can deal with all the other stuff.  That's the evenings all sorted out this week, for sure!  Anything still without a place will just have to be relegated to the garage until after Christmas!

The cold has landed with a bengeance and, paradoxically, I'm feeling quite a lot better behind the cough and the snuffles.  The general aches and lethargy have receded although the shoulder is still a bit of a pain, and I feel more 'get up and go' again, thank goodness.  I thought it was just reaction to the show and concert stress and am glad I haven't turned all that soft in my old age.

Today will be bitty.  This morning is normal timetable but I am off the church with the juniors this afternoon for their carol service, because the choir is doing 'my song' (yet again) so I am accompanying them.  Fun times.
I was then planning to go into town to get the prises for the Great Year One Make a Christmas Tree Decoration Competition (snappy little title, eh?) but managed to get some in Morrisons yesterday so that's something crossed off the list.  I can come home a bit earlier and get on with sorting stuff out instead.

In the night I woke to feel a bit of a gale in the bedroom - I had left the wondow on tilt and turn and it must have been proper blowy out there.  This morning is wet but not cold or windy so fingers crossed that it will be OK.

Take care and have an enjoyable day.

Sunday 15 December 2013

Sunday

. . . and here I am.  Better late than never.  I've been away for a short weekend, up to mum and dad's for the Arcadians Christmas 'thing' - a performance of Christmas songs of all kinds and very, very enjoyable.  Even more enjoyable was spending some time with my parents - two of my bestest friends in the world!

That's about it really.  I drove over yesterday morning, had lunch and then slept the afternoon away.  I also had another sleep this morning before leaving.  I obviously need to catch up on sleep!!!

Five more days before the holiday and I do have quite a lot to do in that time.  This year Christmas is early and there's several days going free after New Year, which is really very nice.  I think I'd rather have recovery time after the festive season than before!

By the way, I think I know why I have been feeling so achey recently.  Yes, I have done something to my shoulder (a trapped nerve or something a bit less less ouc, maybe) but apart from that the next cold is starting to come out.  Fortunately I am a wimp and have been dosing up.

After a bit of sun this morning on the way back home, it is now raining and looks to be set in for the rest of the day.  Ah, well!  Could be snow, let's look on the bright side!

Saturday 14 December 2013

Saturday

Yesterday morning I expressed the hope that the children would be less tired during the day.  I really should have known better.  Mind you, it didn't help that all the adults wuith them were also worn out.  However, we survived and it is now the weekend.

It was a dull, damp, soggy sort of day.  We have building work going on and everything was so muddy.  All a child had to do was trip and fall and not only were they a little bruised, they were also covered with wet, claylike mud.  Playtimes were a bit of a disaster and we became experts at judging who needed to change into PE kit and who didn't.

Despite the tiredness we did manage to get some work done.  Problems and resolutions for a story writing session next week, some Christmas maths problems to solve and, in the afternoon, instructions to follow to make a hand and foot reindeer.  They, with the colour sequencing paperchains, the Christmas tree with their own home made decorations and the early Christmas cards. make the bay look quite festive and jolly.

I am an enthusiastic follower of Michael Rosen's blog.  I don't always agree completely with what he says but he talks a lot of sense.  This link leads you to an entry where he comments on the notes of a PowerPoint presentation on phonics, given to teachers.  Parts of the presentation horrified me.  The thought of removing from my book tray such wonderful stories as 'Peace at Last', 'The Gruffalo' and so on fills me with utter horror.  The idea of not permitting my littlies to use any other strategy for reading other than phonics is an utterly disgraceful one.

I am prepared to bet a fairly substantial amount of money that in a few years' time, after a change of government and the inevitable rubbishing of what the previous government put in place, it will all tip head over heels and there will be yet another 'answer' to the 'problem' of teaching children to read.

And in the meanwhile, most sensible, experienced teachers will quietly go their own way, applying the knowledge and experience of years to give their children the best possible experience of reading they can manage, teaching them not only to bark at the words but to apply understanding and interpretation skills and to use common sense to unfamiliar words, just as we adults do.  Phonics is important, for sure, but not the be-all and end-all of the reading experience.  It might be different if our language was completely phonetically regular and consistent and if the 'rules' were all simple, straightforward and without exception, but it isn't!

End of rant!


Friday 13 December 2013

Friday

Good morning!  It's very definitely not so cold this morning.  No fog, no frost, no shiver when I opened the door to take a peek.  A change from yesterday when the frost lasted in places until well into the morning and the mist/fog didn't lift all day.

I forgot to mention that after the last show on Wednesday evening, some of us went to a local pub for a meal together, and very nice it was too with lots of chatter and giggles.   A good way to end an experience.

Yesterday was very busy.  I wasn't in class as my SEN day had been swapped and that was good because it freed me up for other stuff.  I missed the pantomime because I went over to Morrisons with the choir as they needed another adult.  I've taken choirs over the road to sing at the supermarket in the past so it was lovely to do it again.  They were fantastic.  There's a lot of Y3s in the choir and they couldn't come, so numbers were down, but they sang the best I have ever heard them sing and shoppers were very appreciative.  There were tears in shoppers' eyes as the children sang traditional carols so sweetly, a bit of bopping as they sang up-tempo songs and they sang 'my' carol a capella and it sounded just lovely.

Then I managed to do a bit of sorting and organising, much needed, before lunch.  It the afternoon there was a bit of 'senior management' stuff and then I managed to do some assessments.

Today will feel weird.  For a start, it's years since I taught on a Friday as it's been my SEN day.  Secondly, it's Christmas Dinner Day which means morning lessons will finish much earlier as just about every child has a school dinner on Christmas Dinner Day.  We'll be doing mostly Christmas stuff and, hopefully, the children won't be as tired as they were yesterday.

And then it's the weekend - yay!

Thursday 12 December 2013

Thursday

. . . and what a cold and frosty morning it is too.  I knew it would be - when we came out of school after the show at around 7:30, there was much spraying and scraping of windscreens before we could all depart!  It's also rather misty so drivers will need to take care this morning.

Well, the Infants Christmas Show is over and done and last night was also fantastic.  I was well proud of them all and felt that all the hard work was richly rewarded.  Of course, the children are going to be extremely tired today so thank goodness it's the pantomime.  We have a small theatre company coming to school to present one of their funny and most enjoyable productions.  The children raise the roof and have a marvellous time.
The choir is going to sing outside Morrisons this morning and as I am out of class, I can go with them to help out a little bit at the beginning.

Phew.  I am so relieved that the show is over and, despite various last minute hassles, it's mostly been great!!!
Seven more teaching days!


Wednesday 11 December 2013

Wednesday

Sorry about yesterday - life is very hectic at the moment and it wasn't that I had no time, just little mental energy.

Things are going OK though.  The first performance on Monday morning was OK, fine, nothing special though, but last night was fabulous.  Tonight's performance is being recorded so fingers crossed!
After the show some of us are going out for a meal - I'm just hoping I can stay awake long enough!

I'll be back in full voice soon, promise.

Monday 9 December 2013

Monday

. . . and the first show performance is due to start at 9:30 this morning.  I have a great big long list of Things To Do and will need to get stuck in as soon as I get to school.
I shall be glad when it is Thursday morning!

Yesterday was OK.  We (Beth, Alex and I) enjoyed a simple lunch of jacket potatoes, cheese, ham and baked beans and in the afternoon, later on, Beth and I took a trip out to Next to get the bedside cabinets for the 'new' bedroom.  However, as we approached, we took one look at the queues stretching back in three directions, changed lanes and came home again!
This is what I want.  Simple and matching what's been built in quite well.
It's going to be a funny old week one way and another, with different things happening and I shall be out of class on and off for stuff.  However, the planning is all done and I have just about all of the resources ready, so that's good.

I hope you all have a good day.


Sunday 8 December 2013

Sunday

As expected, yesterday was a very idle day although I did get lots of ironing done and I made some mince pies and boiled up a small piece of gammon.

That was about it really - no energy so not a lot done.  I do have to get cracking on sorting out the stuff for the finished room though.  I have a fortnight to get it all done!

Today Beth is coming round for lunch - jacket potatoes and cheese!

Saturday 7 December 2013

Saturday

Oh, what a week.  I'm worn out and I think today will be a combination of housework and snoozes.  As previously mentioned, Thursday was a mixture of stress, delight and great pride.  Imagine your own composition (words and music) being sung in Westminster Cathedral and, to cap it all, accompanying it yourself.  It was sort of a dream come true and people have been telling me how much they loved it, which is so kind of them.  It's sort of inspiring me to add to my small repertoire of extremely simple and simplistic compositions by writing some more Christmas songs.   Christmas is a great season to write about.  Before I retire (whenever that will be) I would like to have written a complete show for the infants to perform.  Well, I can dream, can't I?

Yesterday was the Infant Show dress rehearsal which was watched by the juniors and it was really good.  In fact, the only real mishap was caused by me - ooops.  My excuse was that the late night before had left me weary and wan and somewhat distracted!!!  So there!!!

Yesterday evening was the school Christmas fair and we are so very lucky with our Friends of the School.  They organised an amazing experience and the queues to get in were way outside the front door.  Well done, one and all.  You are amazing!

Only ten more working days to go - where has the time gone?

Borrowed from Google Images

Friday 6 December 2013

Friday

Too tired to write much this morning but just to say yesterday was OK.

One down and four to go!

Thursday 5 December 2013

Thursday

 . . . and here we are.  The first of the Big Days followed by four more Big Days with a weekend in the middle.

Today, of course, is Westminster Cathedral.  All jolly good fun except for one - no, two - bits.  We leave school at around 12:15, arrive at the cathedral at goodness knows what time and have a rehearsal.  Then we all pile back on the coach to go to a cinema (we have to pass the time somehow) after which it is back to the cathedral for the Carol Concert and the first bad bit (me on a keyboard).  Then it is back on the coach to arrive home probably just before midnight.  And that's the other bad bit because you know what I'm like with my evenings.  I'll probably be asleep before the end of the concert!
Borrowed from Google images
And then tomorrow is the next Big Day - the Infant show dress rehearsal.  Then  a weekend during which I don't really intend to do very much at all.  After that it is three Performances followed by a Collapse (maybe).

I shall be glad when it is all over!

Yesterday, however, was good.
I was observed in the morning.  It was my ICT lesson and it is one I have done for several years in varying forms so I knew it worked.  I didn't even have to 'fiddle' it into the planning; this week was when it was supposed to happen anyway.
OK, so I tweaked the planning.  Normally I don't record planning in such detail, relying on memory and experience to provide the details (although I do always think through each lesson very carefully), but when one is being observed there are things that need to be remembered and I made sure I would!
And I was very, very pleased with the final grade!  :-)

In the afternoon we had a second run through of the show and the only person who made any mistakes was me (blush).

I've just peeked outside and there's a heavy frost.  I guess I expected there would be as when I got home yesterday evening just before six the temperature was only 3 and the skies were clear.  I like frosts; they are pretty.

Better go and polish my shoes and iron the clothes I will be wearing today.  Heaven only knows what I will look like by the evening after a morning's teaching and an afternoon with a choir of 60, but never mind, what will be, will be!  And it will be an experience of a lifetime, won't it?

Please send me anti-nervous vibes . . .

Wednesday 4 December 2013

Wednesday

Good morning, everyone.  I'm up sparkly early this morning after a brilliant night's sleep, ready for another day!  It's jolly cold outside although noit as cold as I thought when I woke.  The bedroom was chilly and I guessed there was a heavy frost but, no, I had just left the window slightly open overnight (I love my tilt and turns!).  It is chilly but not as bad as I thought.

Yesterday was another extremely busy day, even though it was coordinator time and PPA.  The governor for PSHE was in and I met with him, two specialist support teachers were in (although I didn't need to see them for long) and I had a fairly important meeting with the head.

Today is going to be weird.  It starts off OK but then after play my ICT lesson is being observed (and how much do I love being observed . . .?) and it's another full run through in the afternoon.  Following that it is staff meeting.  I shall be tired and will need an early night again which is just as well because tomorrow is Westminster Cathedral Day!  The concert itself doesn't start until seven thirty which is when I am starting to think about when to go to bed, so it's all going to be very tricky.  I think I will need to take some caffeine based drinks with me.

Better check over the planning then!

Tuesday 3 December 2013

Tuesday

Well, yesterday was quite a day.  It started off with me developing some sort of allergic reaction to something.  It's happened before - first the nose starts itching and there's a nasty 'grating' sort of feeling at the back of my mouth and down my throat.  Then I start sneezing.  Fortunately I recognise the itch for what it is and take some anti hay fever stuff which helps.

Yesterday I had quite a reaction and I do wish I knew what I react to.  I took some tablets but it carried on into school and just as my supply arrived I started sneezing and streaming - eyes and nose.  After a while the meds kicked in.
It was pretty horrid and, to be honest, really wiped me out for the rest of the day.  Not particularly pleasant for the supply either to have me in such a state while trying to explain the morning's work to her.

The rest of the day was OK though - a good dance practice where the children remembered the new parts of the dance, bless them.  I didn't get my PPA because the TA who takes my class went home ill, poor lady.  My colleagues are so lovely though - V did my playground duty and took my class afterwards so I could do what I had planned to do and take the actors into the hall for a rehearsal.

By the end of school I was worn out and came home early (five instead of six) and got a very early night.

Today will be better!

Monday 2 December 2013

Monday

Second day of Advent.  The children will be so excited about opening the first and second parts of our Jacquie Lawson online calendar and I have a card for them too - an online, interactive card.

A great day yesterday.  After lunch, Beth and I talked about next year's holiday and we looked on the Center Parcs site and booked a midweek stay right at the end of July.  I'm so excited about it.

We went to Center Parcs a long time ago, several times.  Sherwood had just opened and we had the holiday of a lifetime.  It was such a new thing at the time and it was brilliant.  As we drove away the children were in tears and as soon as we got home I was straight on the phone to book another one.  Then Elveden opened and that was nearer so we had a few more breaks there before it all got a bit expensive and so on.  The children had holidays with their father and I stayed happily at home.

All the other times we went we stayed in a villa.  This time we've got rooms in the hotel and will be eating out each evening.  So exciting!

And now it is Monday and another week at school.  A very busy, hectic week too.  Wish me luck!


Earth grown old, yet still so green,
Deep beneath her crust of cold
Nurses fire unfelt, unseen:
Earth grown old.
We who live are quickly told:
Millions more lie hid between
Inner swathings of her fold.

When will fire break up her screen?
When will life burst thro' her mould?
Earth, earth, earth, thy cold is keen,
Earth grown old.

Christina Rosetti

Sunday 1 December 2013

Some bedroom photos

Apologies for the quality.  It's not a big room and it is hard to get a good shot.






Sunday

Welcome to the first day of Advent.  December 1st.  The Christmas month looking forward to the Christmas Child.

Advent Calendar

He will come like last leaf's fall.
One night when the November wind
has flayed the trees to bone, and earth
wakes choking on the mould,
the soft shroud's folding.

He will come like frost.
One morning when the shrinking earth
opens on mist, to find itself
arrested in the net
of alien, sword-set beauty.

He will come like dark.
One evening when the bursting red
December sun draws up the sheet
and penny-masks its eye to yield
the star-snowed fields of sky.

He will come, will come,
will come like crying in the night,
like blood, like breaking,
as the earth writhes to toss him free.
He will come like child.

This was written by Rowan Williams and it appeals to me.

Yesterday was brilliant!  It didn't start off so well though.  I got an email from the chap whose company is doing the bedroom to say 'A is outside and can't get in'
Well, he wouldn't as the chain was on the door, I was still in my bed things and no hearing aids in so I wouldn't have heard.  I wasn't expecting him to come on a Saturday!  So a quick dash around later I let poor Andy in.  He was OK about it, thank goodness, and agreed to come back 45 minutes later to give me a chance to have my bath and get dressed - once the beds are out on the landing I can't get to my bedroom, you see.

My friends arrived at just after eleven and we set to, chatting, gossipping, exchanging news and views and generally rabbiting on as only fellow OU/OUSA students can do.  In the end I flavoured up the pork mince with some more balsamic vinegar, some red peppers, mushrooms, petit pois and chilli and served it with home made pasta, garlic bread and grated Parmesan on the top and it really was very good indeed.  My friends brought desserts so we had a choice of plum pie or strudel (or both) with cream.  We ate like kings, believe me.

And while we were chatting, Andy was busy laying the floor and generally tidying up and clearing out all his stuff.  The bedroom is now finished apart from putting the lights in and a few last minute things to do.  I've just ordered the rugs and will get the bedside cabinets from Next, as and when.  As soon as the painty smell disappears I have to move the stuff back into the new storage cupboards and generally restore the rest of my house to some sort of order again.
I'll post some photos in a separate entry!

So that was yesterday really - a super duper day thanks to Andy, Jen and Sue.

Today Beth and Alex come round and I will be using some of the remaining mince mixture to make a savoury crumble and dessert will be - bet you can guess . . . plum pie and strudel!

Saturday 30 November 2013

Saturday

It's cold, dark, probably dismal, but I don't care!  Friends are coming round for lunch, people I haven't seen for a while, and I'm all excited about it.

Looking round the room, oh, drea!  It's not going to be tidy right now, not with spare room stuff piled up, but I think it could be better than it is, so a quick tidy up is in order.

As they are coming for lunch, I dithered about what to cook and decided comfort food in the shape of cottage pie or something similar would just fit the bill.  With that in mind, I wandered out to the shed and brought in two packs of mince before going to bed.  On Friday morning I started preparing the mince for the slow cooker and realised I had defrosted pork mince, not beef mince.  Doh!

Never mind, I did the necessary with the frying pan and piled it all in the slow cooker to simmer all day long.  I used carrot, onion and celery, cumin, coriander and cinnamon, chopped tomatoes and tomato puree, stock, lentils and oats and some salt, pepper and balsamic vinegar and as an after thought I threw in some dried cranberries (no idea why, it just seemed like a good idea).  The resulting goo is quite tasty and I've decided that I will serve it with pasta (home made) with parmesan on top and garlis bread on the side.  A right mix up but I reckon it will taste well OK.
I need to saute some mushrooms and peppers and might also add some red wine and frozen peas too and boil it all off.  It'll be a right conglomeration but I reckon it will be more or less OK!
Casual, that's me!!

I hope it's not too bad because it's going to provide the basis of several meals through the week too!

And now I need to start getting things ready!
Have a great day.


Friday 29 November 2013

Friday

Well, I survived yesterday.  As I suspected, it was terribly busy and I didn't get a break all day.  I was a bit late in, nearer to eight than seven thirty but it was straight into preparation, the the children arrived, I took assembly so we could practise songs, then I was on playground duty.  Over lunchtime I had a meeting and a rehearsal and then the afternoon was our first full rehearsal followed by an extended playtime and guess who was on duty.  Yup!  Me.

Mind you, I am reminded that if a thing is worthwhile it is worth working for.  I was amazed at how good the first full rehearsal was.  Very few glitches, everyone did their dance (we allow a 'walk through' for the first full rehearsal if the dance isn't quite ready) and now I am worrying that it is peaking too soon.  The weakest point was the singing so we have to blitz that over the next week.

I've been really nagging my littlies about listening to the music in our dance.  In the dance practice they were much more confident and, as often happens, started anticipating the next bit too soon, so we worked intensively at that and it worked.  They were SO proud of themselves afterwards.  And so was I.

And I slept like a log.

Thursday 28 November 2013

Thursday

Good morning, everybody.  When I peeped out this morning it felt cold but not freezing and it hasn't been raining, which is good.  I'm on playground duty morning and afternoon today so staying fine is definitely what the teacher ordered.  Warm would be better but I'm not daft enough to expect that!

Yesterday was another lovely day with a lot going on and, for a change, staff meeting was encouraging and positive.  We looked at the new maths curriculum and compared it with current expectations.  As we have always delivered beyond what the expectation for the year group there weren't too many nasty surprises although I suspect those responsible for the new curriculum don't have an awfully in depth understanding of maths and very little children.  Having said that, we left the meeting feeling pretty encouraged and not too worried about our ability to deliver it without too many unsettling changes.  So all very good really!
I suspect it will be very different when we look at the new orders for english/literacy!

Today is a right mish mash of a day.  It starts normally enough with Reading Revelry, Word Workshop and literacy but then it morphs into Christmas show stuff for the rest of the day.  I am taking over assembly to continue teaching/practising the songs, after play my class has a dance practice and the afternoon is taken up with our first complete run through.  That, combined with playground duties and a lunchtime rehearsal for the cast, gives me a very busy, packed day and I suspect I will be fit for nothing this evening.  Never mind, the show must go on as the saying goes!!!

And so must I - I need to iron some clothes and get myself ready!!
Have a good day and Diane - take it easy and stay warm and rested.







Wednesday 27 November 2013

Wednesday

So sorry about the non-appearance of the blog yesterday.  Somehow it just didn't get written one way and another.

On Monday, as I wandered around a few shops, I remembered that my duvet had become rather lumpy and bumpy.  That's what happens when you buy cheapos, I guess.  My Internet friend, Diane, has a silk duvet and I'm sure she never has that problem!!  Anyway, I do like a fluffy duvet so I bought another one (still cheap) and have enjoyed the last few nights with a bouncy, soft duvet wrapped around me.  Bliss.

I suppose that if one must buy from a posh place like Liberty, one must expect great service, but I wasn't prepared for the arrival of the owls on Tuesday, seeing as I only ordered them on Sunday evening, but there they were, beautifully packed  with tissue paper and a lovely purple carrier bag laid on top (not sure why but I'm not arguing), each owl in a rather nice purple box that I will be able to use for other stuff (like jam).  And the owls are bee-yoo-tee-ful!  What with flu and stuff, I didn't manage to get a special decoration last year so maybe I'm just catching up!

Yesterday was coordinator time followed by PPA and I managed to get so much done!  Report back to the head, message for the newsletter, pupil perception questions prepared,  next week's planning done and most of the reading assessment data entered into Tracker.  Amazing!  No wonder I was tired in the evening.

However, today I have my class all day which is really very nice.  Reading Revelry, Work Workshop, literacy, maths, D&T, library time and a dance rehearsal.  No wonder they go home rather weary.  Then it's staff meeting, just to finish things off nicely!

I should sleep well again tonight!

Monday 25 November 2013

Monday

Gold Antique Effect Owl Bauble Gold Antique Effect Owl Bauble Gold Antique Effect Owl Bauble Gold Antique Effect Owl Bauble Gold Antique Effect Owl Bauble Gold Antique Effect Owl Bauble Gold Antique Effect Owl Bauble Gold Antique Effect Owl Bauble Gold Antique Effect Owl Bauble Gold Antique Effect Owl Bauble

Aren't they cute?  Owl baubles and I have ordered three from Liberty at an outrageous price but they are my 'special ornament purchase' this year.  Each year I try to buy something different for the Christmas tree, just one thing (or, in this case, three):  it's now something of a tradition.  As soon as Beth showed me the advert (an insert in one of the Sunday Times magazines) I knew I would HAVE to buy them.  There was also a card with £30 off which would have been nice, leaving the shop owing me money but, unfortunately, you have to spend £150 and much as I love the ornaments I don't want that many!

Gold Antique Effect Owl Bauble Gold Antique Effect Owl Bauble Gold Antique Effect Owl Bauble Gold Antique Effect Owl Bauble Gold Antique Effect Owl Bauble Gold Antique Effect Owl Bauble Gold Antique Effect Owl Bauble Gold Antique Effect Owl Bauble Gold Antique Effect Owl Bauble Gold Antique Effect Owl Bauble

See - overkill!  Too many eyes following me around!
I did take a wee look at rugs (for the 'new' bedroom) but after recovering from the choking fit brought on by the price, I decided maybe not this month/year/decade/century!

Today is a non pupil day so no rush.  I have to go into town later anyway, to have a whinge at my bank which I don't like doing but I'm going to have to.

Yesterday was, as I hoped, lazy.  I made the plum and apple jam which turned out scrummy and we had the Saturday made soup for lunch and that was also scrummy.  Alex, having gone to karate in the morning, had three bowls full as he was very hungry.  Beth and I were full after one bowl.  There's a bit left over for tomorrow too so that's great!

Gold Antique Effect Owl Bauble Gold Antique Effect Owl Bauble Gold Antique Effect Owl Bauble Gold Antique Effect Owl Bauble Gold Antique Effect Owl Bauble Gold Antique Effect Owl Bauble Gold Antique Effect Owl Bauble Gold Antique Effect Owl Bauble Gold Antique Effect Owl Bauble Gold Antique Effect Owl Bauble
(and that's how many I could buy for £150, not counting postage!)

Sunday 24 November 2013

Sunday

Still cold, still damp, still dark!

What a lovely day it was yesterday.

I made bread.  I decided to try and up the oat content so I used 150g oats and 350g strong flour.  The flavour is great, as it the texture but the colour is not so fantastic.  Probably better to use wholemeal flour from the colour perspective.
This week I tried a five strand plait and I looks as if I am getting used to the whole pattern of plaiting, because it worked!

I used up most of the shop bought carrots making a spicy carrot and butterbean soup.  the spices (cumin and coriander) have counterbalanced the sweetness of the carrots and it tastes great (I think).  The recipe is here.

I got George to pull the remaining carrots from the garden while he was doing his hour and I then prepared, par boiled and froze them, ready for Christmas.  I am sure most of my readers can do this standing on their heads but I described what I did here.

I had some punnets of plums that really needed using and a bag of apples, very sound windfalls, that also needed using so, with Christmas pressies in mind, I made a large bowlful of plum and apple jam - well, I did the first half of the process and the actual jamming will be done this morning.  The jars are in the dishwasher as I type!

In the fridge I have some puff pastry that needs using up so, for lunch dessert today, I will make some mincemeat puffs.  Fancy name, simple thing - just like pasties but sweet.  Dead easy.

Today is going to be a lazy, easy, cosy, comfortable day.  I need one!

Saturday 23 November 2013

Saturday

It's still cold but, joy of joys, the inside of my freezers are much colder.  Yes, the electrical problem has been sorted and it was as I suspected, connected to the work in the spare room.  When the power was restored the warning lights came on for both freezers because the temperature had warmed to minus 10 but that's not going to be any kind of problem, is it?  Three cheers.  A plus is that now I know where the power from the shed enters the house.  Another plus is that now all the extension cables can be stored in one place.  I seem to have a fair number of them one way and another and very useful they have proved themselves to be over the last 24 hours or so!
This is the best I can do at the moment.  I can't get any further away because on all the desorating clutter, etc.  It's starting to look really good (potentially), although there's a way to go yet.
I got up really early today - before four o'clock - so I came down and pottered, then felt the sleepiness returned so went back up to bed again.  I woke suddenly after seven, remembered that my friends, Sonja and Milli, were dropping in at about nine-ish so got going with my bath.  Little did I know that they were outside the house, having had a good drive around London and they had sent me two texts and an email.  Well, I never hear much until I have put in my hearing aids!!!
Fortunately, as I got out of the bath, I peeped out of the window and saw their car!  Eeeek!  So I let them in and rushed with drying and dressing!
They're on their way again now but it was so lovely to see them and to have a bit of time for a chat.  And that's why this entry is late!

It was another good day yesterday.  I didn't do half of what I wanted to do but never mind, I had a great meeting with a brilliant LSA and I got some paperwork done and dusted.  It was cold all day and even the children didn't ask about coats, they just put them on!

And now it's the weekend.  The house is tidy, well, downstairs is anyway and I had a panic tidy up of my bedroom yesterday morning in case the electrician needed access.  I really couldn't have let anyone in in the state it was.  Another half hour or so and it will be spick, span and tidy too.

It's bread making day, of course.  As well as that I want to pull the remaining carrots and deal with them (blanch and freeze).  Also I have a pile of apples and plums and intend to make some more spiced apple and plum jam which will be Christmas presents for all the lovely school people who help and support me so much from day to day.  Then I will defrost and use a couple of the packs of mince I got from Donald Russell.  I have veg to use up so it will be ideal for that.  Cottage pie for lunch tomorrow, I reckon

The planning is done, the resources are made, the weekend looms, plenty of cooking and the electricity is working.  Sheer bliss!

Oh - and a bedroom to finish tidying (you never know!!!).


Friday 22 November 2013

Friday

Another week over, another week done (all but today, of course)  For teachers, weeks run from Monday to Friday and weekends are something entirely different!  Again, it's cold outside and the heating has clicked on but maybe it will warm up a bit later on.

Yesterday was a funny old day.  Highs and lows.

The highs:

The choir (and I) went to a rehearsal of the Christmas songs (including mine!) to a lovely secondary school.  I was really pleased with the interpretation of the song by the conductor (who happens to be our school's head too) and I didn't make too many fumbles while accompanying them either.  I'm not a great pianist by any means but if I can't play my own music it would be a poor thing!

Then it was back to school for a nice lunch followed by performance management interviews which also went well.  All done now!

While social networking after school, I read a message from my daughter announcing that Alex has been given an 'award' (whatever that means) for academic progress and academic achievement.  Wow and double wow.  This is the lad who was at a special school for PMLD (profound and multiple learning difficulties) with an autism base until the summer of 2012 and who hadn't done the national curriculum in any subject but maths.  He's now top set material in science based subjects, despite the lack of previous learning.  I am so, so proud of him and of Beth too - she's an amazing mum.  I'm feeling tearful just thinking about it now, in a happy way, of course!

After three good (brilliant) things there had to be a counterbalance and when I got home I discovered that there was no power out to the shed.  The freezers are in the shed!  Eeeeeeek.  Thank goodness Beth was here and had asked for something from the freezer or it would have been several days, maybe, before I noticed that the shed was out.  After a quick phone call, the lovely lad (OK man, but he's a lad to me seeing as I remember him at primary school, poor bloke) who is doing up my spare room came over and said he would sort things out for me today, starting with a temporary rig up from the house so that the freezers are OK.  Phew. And not long afterwards I discovered that all the sockets in the extension area of the house and upstairs are out and they were OK this morning so whatever happened, happened today.  Good news for the freezer contents.
So I rigged up some lamp lighting in the bedroom (lucky for me I have a number of extension cables) and also connected the alarm clock although that wouldn't have been a problem as I always wake well before the alarm!  It's there more for peace of mind than anything else!

Today is SEN day and as always I have a list of things as long as my arm.  Keeps me out of trouble, for sure!

Stay safe, everyone!


Thursday 21 November 2013

Thursday

Another cold start to the day, especially when one wakes up before the heating comes on.  I suppose I could set the heating to come on earlier but I don't want to - it's expensive enough as it is!  A very quick peek outside shows me that it's windy right now which means that it's going to feel jolly cold!  Brrrrrrrrrrr.

The built in wardrobes are coming on up in the spare room.  They're nowhere near finished yet but you can see how they will look with the eye of imagination and the storage they will give me is very impressive.  I'm glad I am having it done now.  I wasn't last week as everything was dismantled and a right mess and I was missing the old and familiar.  But now - well, it will be good!
Floor to ceiling fitted.  The unit on the right is the hanging space with shelf above and below, the rest is all storage.  The shelves you can see are fixed shelves and there will be several moveable ones as well.  Great use of the alcove, I think!
Yesterday was a very confusing day!  I had to swap a load of things around in order to get a dance practice in the morning because I couldn't have it at the scheduled time of the afternoon.  That had a knock on effect so most things got swapped around or discarded.  It didn't help that I needed to schedule in a 'last chance family assembly practice' as well.

We did get some work done though, you will be relieved to read, and I was so pleased with my class in family assembly.  They spoke up, remembered to stand up and sit down at the right times, didn't forget what they had to say and generally did themselves proud.  Three cheers, it was worth all the hard work before hand!  And that's me done this term - the next one will be in March some time.

The afternoon was taken with me observing a lesson and undertaking a work and planning scrutiny of one year group.  It's the first one I have done for PSHE, which I started coordinating in September.  It was actually very interesting.  Because PSHE is a 'small' subject, there wasn't an awful lot of hard work involved in looking at the work and the planning and the lesson observation was a delight from start to finish. Amazingly, I finished all the work, including the write up, by the end of the day, with a little more done after staff meeting ended.  I'm well pleased with that!
And to cap it all, the cover teacher told me she had a lovely time with my class!  Big smiles all round!

Today is also - different!
This  morning I am off with the school choir to a local secondary school for a rehearsal of the songs they/we will be doing at Westminster Cathedral.  I have a sort of terrified/excited feeling inside at the thought, so heaven only knows what I will be like in six or so hours' time!!  I leave my class with an agency teacher who has taken them several times before and with whom they get on really well, so no concerns.
The afternoon will see me finishing off the performance management interviews for the LSAs and I will be glad to draw a line under them, not because they have been a bad experience but because they should have been finished last week and weren't because four were absent for one reason or another, so they've been hanging on rather..

And all the while it will be getting colder, I gather.  Brrrrrr.  Time to get out the blankets!




Wednesday 20 November 2013

Wednesday

. . . and there's a very hard frost out there!  In fact, when I came out of school yesterday evening, the car windscreen needed de-icing before I drove away.  Winter has started.  No snow days though, please, pretty please!

It's a funny old week.  Monday was OK, then yesterday it was PPA and coordinator time, today I am out of class in the afternoon observing and doing a planning and work scrutiny for my subject area, on Thursday I am out of class all day with a choir rehearsal in the morning (at a local secondary school) and finishing off the performance management interviews in the afternoon and then Friday is my SEN day.

This morning is all muddled around too.  because I am missing my dance practise today and tomorrow (and the supply cover can't do it because it's for the Christmas Show) I've swapped around which means that after play is dance, not ICT.  This is a Good Thing because I can now move it to next week where there was something of a gap before.  It's nice to have the flexibility!

Amazingly, this is coming to the end of the third week of the half term.  It has flashed past.  Soon all the Christmas stuff will take over with brightness and sparkle and that will be it!

Have a lovely day.


Tuesday 19 November 2013

Tuesday

Another day on, getting colder (I've just looked out), getting older!  Insted of turning the heating on earlier (I was awake very early, even for me), I tried out the halogen heater and I have to say it is quite effective.  I think it will be a worthwhile purchase.

There's not a lot to say really except that it's all got to calm down at some point, hasn't it?  Surely????

Have a good day.

Monday 18 November 2013

Monday

Wasn't it a dull and dreary day yesterday?  It certainly was here.  Mum and dad arrived just before lunch and decided that they needed to leave earlier than expected because they drove through some mist on the way here that looked as if it was only going to get worse.  By the time they left, it was obvious that they were right but they got home without mishap in a good time.
Borrowed from Google Images
Peeping out of the front door it's misty, wet and cold.  Deelightful!!

Lunch went down well.  What with seconds, etc, there isn't as much left over as I had expected, but there's certainly enough to see me through several lunches at school, three cheers!  Beth and Al took a good chunk of the cake, which turned out extremely well, unlike the last one.  I think the recipe is at fault because this time I changed the timings and speeds (using Thermione) and it was so much better!  There's not a lot of bread left either.  It was a very attractive four strand plaited loaf and the taste and texture were both great.

For a while now I have been intending to get some 'steps' for my three doors, all of which have quite a drop on the outside.  Not that I'm getting old or anything, you understand, but anything for an easier life.  There's a fairly local company in Bishop's Stortford who do them very reasonably and here's a picture.  Ignore the walking stick!  My parents brought three over with them and now they are in the relevant places around the outside of my house.  It doesn't half make a difference when I'm balancing a tray of stuff on my way to the freezer, believe me!

Today is frantically busy from beginning to end.  I sorted out all the programmes for the show, split them into class numbers and generally tried to make it as easy for my colleagues as possible to allocate them to the families.  However, I left the covering letter at school so will have to sort that out at some point today, playtime probably.  There's no violins today and no assembly because of individual photos, so it's going to be a very long day, I think.  Then after school we're having our Christmas meeting to get everything ready for the show - allocate tickets, paint the back drop, eat mince pies and pringles, drink . . . oh, you get the idea.

I will sleep well tonight!  :-)

Sunday 17 November 2013

Sunday

I'm writing this rather later than usual, having has a wonderful night's sleep and waking at a time which, for me, amounts to a good lie in!  Excellent.  It's not so cold outside this morning - no frost, unlike yesterday and Friday, but I gather much colder weather is on its way!  What will come, will come!

I had a busy morning.  My friend couldn't come which is perhaps just as well because the shopping took much longer than I anticipated.  I managed to get most of the stuff I needed but I realied later that one of the things is wrong and I will have to buy again - a right pain!

On the way to B&Q I noticed that the fuel light was on so I stopped off at Sainsbury's to fill up.  Not only was it about the cheapest place in the area, I also got a voucher with £14 off if I spent over £70.  That's not bad in anyone's book so on the way back I stopped back off and did some shopping for Christmas, etc, to use it up.  There's always a short expiry on these things and I do tend to forget I have them.

Back home I set to and made some soup.  Two soups, in fact, one a mixed veg and lentil and the other a spicy carrot and lentil.  I do love lentils in soup!!!  They're both delicious and it is nice to be able to offer my guests a choice.  I have posted them both over in Teacher's Recipes, here and here.

This morning I have a downstairs to tidy, dust and sweep, bread to make (it's rising as I type) and a cake to make, hopefully a bit more successfully than last time.  Better get going!

Saturday 16 November 2013

Saturday! Yay!

. . . and it feels jolly cold outside.  Dressing gown is on and I must locate my slippers too (or get some more from Matalan).  A bedroom tidy up is long overdue, I feel.

As usual, yesterday was a good day.  As it was SEN day, I had two meeting, one of which was 'important', both of which went well.  My children produced some good work for C.  I wasn't on playground duty (because of the meeting!!!) and that's good because it felt pretty chilly, despite the sun.

 I am back on the Saturday Soups now, with some left over bag that needs using up so this soup will have spuds, carrot, onion, leek and celery with lentils and marigold veg stock, plus whatever seasonings come to mind (or hand).  I'm looking forward to great use of Thermione through her first winter with me.  lest weekend I saw, in Morrisons, that they had  quality carton 'fresh' soups on sale as a BOGOF so I bought two cartons of  Glorious New England Butternut Squash soup but you know what - it was too sweet and too salty and I didn't really like it at all.  I ate a bit and B and A had their share but no-one wanted any seconds and I threw the remains away instead of taking it to school for lunch on Monday.  What a waste but I've learnt a lesson - home made soups are best!

Today, early, I am off to B&Q with a list.  Handles for the new bedroom units, lights (two wall mounted and one ceiling, a curtain rail, granular salt (for the water softener) and a spray bottle.

The spray bottle is because over on facebook someone posted a tip.  Three parts vinegar to one part water, in a spray bottle.  Spray it over your car windows if it's going to be frosty and in the morning (so the tip says) there will be frost on the windows.  Well, I reckon for the cost of a spray bottle (which I will use for other things if it doesn't work), it is well worth a try, especially with frost forecast.  I dislike scraping the car in the freezing cold!
I've just googled (how would we ever manage without google nowadays?) and it is on this site plus lots of other ideas/uses so I reckon it's worth a go.
I'll let you know!

Now I'm off into the kitchen to get the soup on, empty the dishwasher, etc, etc, etc.  Have a great Saturday!


Friday 15 November 2013

Friday

Good morning.  Those who know me will be glad (I hope) to read that I have recovered my equinamity after a most discouraging meeting on Wednesday and yesterday was a Good Day (yes, with capital letters too)!

It's amazing how quickly us teachers can bounce back.  It doesn't take much - well, it does, but 'much' often happens.  For me, yesterday, it was the results of a phonic assessment covering the phonics done so far this term.  They were very good and very encouraging.  As L said, they may not always look as if they are taking it all in but they obviously are!  Three cheers.

I was on playground duty twice.  My goodness, it was jolly cold.  It was coat and gloves weather so it's a shame I didn't have any gloves with me.  I need to dig them out from wherever I put them when winter finished.

The newspapers online seem full of this shocking winter we are supposed to be having starting as soon as next week.  You'd think it was armageddon, looking at some of the headlines . . .

'Coldest winter in modern times'

'Winter weather hell as killer storm heads towards BRITAIN for Christmas' (capitals are not mine)

. . . to quote just two.
The met office, on the other hand, is not at all impressed with the dramatic predictions.  Trust them to add a good dose of common sense to the mix!  However, even they seem to feel that it's going to be quite cold next week!!  This morning I stuck my head out of the window and it smelt icy, if you know what I mean.  I looked again a few moments ago and it seems to have warmed up a bit (and clouded over).  Does this mean a wet day to come?

As we practise for our Christmas show, Snowman at Sunset (maybe an inspired choice this year???) my thought go back to two years ago - no, three years ago, 2010 (according to my entries here) when we had several snow days at the beginning of December and the show had to be moved back a week.  I do hope that doesn't happen this year, it was a right pain!!!


Not that hoping will change what is to be, of course!