Friday 31 May 2013

Oh, how I wish . . .

. . . that those who write these spammy messages that pop up with boringly monotonous regularity could at least make their spams interesting, coherent, grammatically accurate and/or with correct spellings.
It would be even better if they just stopped < grins >.


The half term is nearly over.  Last weekday coming up.  It's been good but it will be lovely to get back to my class again.  I am very aware that I will only have them for another (counting the days) seven weeks.  Thirty five school days, that's all!  And then they will be someone else's, not mine any more.  Very sad.

Yesterday afternoon Beth and Alex came over and we set to with menu plans and shopping lists.  It's going to be a challenge, right enough, and it's very tight at the moment, but maybe we can reduce costs a little bit as we shop around.  I have to say that, once again, My Supermarket is proving so helpful.  I just wish they did Morrison's, Aldi's and Lidl's prices too.

I am very thankful that both Beth and I are used to cooking from scratch.  Breakfast porridge, veggie burgers and bolognaise (of a sort) hold no terrors for us and nice thick warming split pea soup is a doddle.  I quite like the look of my draft menu for the five days too.  Plenty of flavour and variety there!  That's the advantage of doing Live Below The Line in a team.  You can pool resources and make more of your money.  One bag of porridge oats does three as easily as one for five days and costs the same.  Broccoli will taste better for being fresh picked from Beth's garden as well as being incredibly better value.  We're charging a nominal sum for garden produce but, in reality, the broccoli has already paid for itself and more so, really, we should be putting money back into the pot (yeah, sure!!!!!).  Even so, I know that there will be things left over after the five days.  Oats and tea bags for sure.

This morning I am going first to Aldi and then to Lidl, to compare prices.  I need to get just a few things for next week too, so I will get them while I am there.  And then home to write reports and generally tidy up before a friend comes round for coffee this afternoon.  And I need to think about the Cheaper than Chips eating for the coming week - that will not stop and is going to continue before and after LBTL.  I'm rather enjoying it and can see so many benefits.  In fact, I can feel a ponder coming on so I'm off to Teacher's Recipes to ponder in the right place.

It's all go!

Thursday 30 May 2013

The Hunger Project

Copied direct from our giving page:

The Hunger Project empowers families and communities not only to feed their own children but to build sustainable futures for them. We work in Africa, Asia and Latin America, reaching twenty million people in the most rural places imaginable. We have trained 380,000 volunteer leaders in 8,700 villages who now have the confidence, methods and skills to train millions more for their own journey to a sustainable life living above the poverty line. Live Below the Line for The Hunger Project and you will be celebrating their achievements so far and giving many more families the opportunity to begin a life free from hunger and poverty.

We do things differently; wherever we work the aim is to create and leave new skills in the community so that knowledge can be transferred quickly to the next village. It makes your investment go further as one gift reaches many more people over time.

Your investment will go to women, men and children in the most rural grassroots communities – only those living on less than £1 a day. We don’t hand out food but work with people to create their own resources and meet their own needs - new skills, land, equipment and small loans to start businesses. - See more at:

There's quite a lot more, well worth taking a look, I think.

Thursday: and a big challenge

Good morning!  As I always start with the weather I will just note that it is wet and miserable and the heating has come on - so no change there!  On Saturday it will be June.  Flaming June.  Maybe there will be a magical turn about and the sun will suddenly realise his responsibilities and get shining!  You never know!

Yesterday was the day I felt well again.  Yay!  The cramps and sicky feelings have gone and things all seem back to normal.  So today I am due at a friends for coffee and I can go without any worries.  Excellent!

I got a phone call from Beth yesterday.  Would I do five days of Living Below The Line with her.  Eeeeeek!  For those who don't know, it is a project whereby people spend just one pound a day on food - all food and drink - that they consume.  It's a bit more complicated than that because you also have to cost in  whole bags of stuff that you buy, whether you use all of it or not and no day's eating must come to more than one pound.  You can buy for the week - that's five pounds for a weekly shop - and you can use seasonings and herbs that you already have if you cost in what you've used (bit of guesswork there, I am sure).  You can also use garden produce as long as you cost in whatever they cost in the growing thereof (which is, in our case, not a lot).

So, after a few eeeks and oooh and a private whinge or two (because I had already decided I wouldn't get involved in this) I agreed to team up with her.  One reason for not wanting to was that I really didn't want to do it on my own.  Doing it with someone else makes it all a whole lot easier for various reasons.

Anyway, enough of that.  I'm, sure I will have bored the socks off you before it's all over, both in here and over on Teacher's Recipes where I will be updating daily and where I will have my very first guest blogger!   All together now . . . Oooooohhhhhhhh!  :-)

The main point of it all is to get sponsors, of course, and Beth and I are asking people to consider sponsoring us for this.  We are supporting The Hunger Project and I will copy their blurb into a separate message.  If you would be so kind as to support us, the information and wherewithal to donate is over on our bit of the LBTL web site.  Just follow the link, which is also on my Facebook page, for those who have access to it.
(see - nice and big so you can't miss it!!!)

Thank you so much.

Wednesday 29 May 2013

One to read.

I don't pass on many other blog things really except for foody things.  Perhaps I should do more.  This one has impacted on me to a surprising degree.

I've known people who have been hurt deeply by ATOS - and I've not talking about 'poor little me' hurt, I'm talking about huge, deep, very damaging,  totally unnecessary and completely avoidable hurt.  I have three friends who I consider good friends, vulnerable people who have been ATOS damaged.

Please, please follow this link, read the article and, if it resonates, pass it on in whatever way is available to you.  It might not make any different - but it might.  You just never know.


I can't believe it is Wednesday already.  Eeeeek!  Must get going with a few bits and pieces or I will have achieved not-a-lot by the end of the week and that would never do.

I've been given back a few days.  Hyde Hall didn't happen, of course, and has now been rescheduled for a few weeks time.  I was going to see a friend on Friday but, sadly, she is unwell so I won't be going now.  And so far I haven't wanted to stray too far from a loo so that's restricted my movements too.  After munching on some anti-whotsit tablets yesterday evening things seem to have now settled (fingers crossed) so you never know, perhaps I can go out soon!

Wasn't yesterday disgusting?  Well, it was here.  Back to cold again, heating clicked on, rain all day until the sun came out early evening and brightened everything up again.  After the sunny weekend it was like a slap in the face but at the moment it looks hopeful so fingers crossed for a nicer day.

I had intended to do a bit of garden pottering but it was too wet for that so I did a bit indoors instead.  When I went shopping on Sunday I saw that Sainsbury's had some 'living lettuce' - you know, the kind that are still planted.  The idea is that you pull off leaves as you want them and the lettuce just keeps on growing - nice and frugal.  Last year (or maybe the year before) I replanted some very sad living lettuces that I got in a sale and they went on to give me salad leaves for weeks and weeks.  Given my Cheaper than Chips project (which is going great) and the cost of lettuce generally, I thought I would try that again so yesterday I replanted the lettuces (there were three different types to each very tiny pot) into separate pots and they are now sitting on my kitchen window ledge, looking wonderfully healthy at the moment.  Fingers crossed!
Each pot of three cost £1.00 so if they do me for a fortnight, that is great value, considering how much lettuce I eat at this time of year.  A month would be brilliant.  We will see.  They are worth tending . . .

It looks nice and productive, doesn't it?  In the middle there's the thyme, some cut parsley in water and some cress and to the right of that are my rosemary cuttings which I do need to get into soil.
The main problem is getting the blind down properly at night!

After making some sausage meat and butter bean burgers yesterday which were quite nice, I've posted the recipe over on t'other blog which seemed to attract rather more visitors than usual yesterday.  No idea why but if anyone strolls over in this direction, hello and welcome!  Comments (not spammy ones, obviously) would be very welcome!

Tuesday 28 May 2013

Answer to question

A few days ago I asked what this was.

According to experts (aka Mum and Dad) it's a beech.  Not a pot plant in the slightest but it's going to be one until it gets too big.  I'm not going to turn down the opportunity to have another nice green thing in a pot in my garden.  And when it outgrows the pot it can have a bigger pot or feed the brown bin, whichever seems most sensible at the time.

Free plants are good!  Thank you, Mr Birdie (or whatever imported the seed).


"And, just like the ivy, I'll cling to you."

It's been a lovely weekend, warm (ish) and very sunny.  Today things have reverted to type and it's raining.  Good for the garden but not for a planned trip to Hyde Hall.  Boooo.

Ah, well, it gives me a good run at those reports and, seeing as I'm still not feeling 100%, perhaps it's just as well.  Hyde Hall is in no way an energetic place to visit but given that I've not eaten much for over 36 hours, walking around gardens is maybe pushing it a bit.

I spent yesterday sleeping, reading, dozing, reading, napping . . . oh, you get the idea.  Just right for the first real day of a holiday.   I didn't manage to start the washing, clear the kitchen, do my bedroom - all the usual daily or weekend chores - so I will have plenty to get on with today!  Nor did I get stuff out into the garden but maybe today would be better for that with the soil nice a wet.

You never know - it might clear up later.  And now I'm off to make my porridge!

Monday 27 May 2013


Just to let readers know that I've posted a recipe for Strawberry and blueberry sorbet into Teacher's Recipes.
It's delicious.

Bank holiday Monday

As I was going to Strawberry Fair
Singing, singing, buttercups and daisies . . .

The sun is shining, there's a chill to the air that will dissipate before long and, hopefully, it is going to be a gorgeous day!

It was a funny old day yesterday.  After my very early start (two thirty, would you believe?) I didn't get back to sleep later so not a terribly good start to the day.  I was getting tummy twinges too which was rather a nuisance.  By early evening I was shattered, went to sleep in my favourite chair, woke feeling achey, hot and shivery, had some meds, went to bed and more or less slept the clock round, including the chair sleep.  I'd love to say I feel 100% now but, although I don't, I do feel loads better and will be fine by the end of the day, I'm sure.

Fortunately, I had set the first three days as chill out, do-nothing-much-but-rest days so maybe my body is making sure I do!  Tomorrow I start the dreaded reports!  I did have something on for this afternoon, but not now!

So, today . . . I intend to read and rest for most of the day because I'm still weary and fuzzy around the edges.  Yesterday, Beth brought over some broccoli from her garden (cooked) so I will be making soup for lunch.  I'm not sure I fancy any breakfast - not yet, anyway - and I'll think about dinner later.  I have to do some washing (and therefore ironing) and I want to plant out some tomatoes that are threatening to take over the kitchen!  That's about it really.

Hoping the sun shines on us all.

Sunday 26 May 2013

Recipe . . .

Just to let you know I've posted info about a delicious recipe for carrot, cumin and kidney bean burgers (or patties or whatever) over in Teacher's Recipes.  Here's the link.


Taken in the early morning garden yesterday.

What a lovely, warm, sunny day it was yesterday, wasn't it?  For the first time in ages I was able to open the French window and bask in the fresh air.  Not that I did much basking as I was indulging in one of my favourite occupations - cooking!

I started off with the weekly loaves.  The Hollywood dough was thoroughly 'doughed' in Thermione before rising is a pool of sunlit warmth.  I knocked together a loaf of soda bread to show my visitor how easy it was (don't think I totally convinced her though) and she took it home.  In the afternoon I made some savoury rice to use up left-overs (half last night and half this evening) and then I prepared the carrot, cumin and kidney bean burgers for lunch today.  Oh,. and I made some bread rolls for Beth!

I woke at stupid o'clock this morning and, as I was totally wide awake, I came down and made some wraps (also for Beth) and am just writing this before I go back up to see if I can catch another hour or so of sleep before the day starts.  The lunch is all made and ready - the carrot, cumin and kidney bean burgers with carrot and cranberry coleslaw and chips followed by rhubarb sorbet as last week.  All  tasty and healthy and although it sounds quite lavish, it's pretty frugal, in fact!  Basic food sparked by imagination (not all mine by a long shot) and a good dollop of seasoning!

I'm loving this bartering.  I make bread, etc, for Beth and she brings things from the allotment (when they are available).  It's not organised, it just happens!

Before that though I have to go a-shopping as I'm running out of things like loo rolls, washing liquid, etc.  I might treat myself to a Sunday paper as well, seeing as it is the half term holiday - that will be a treat!

Holiday Sunday, here I come!

Saturday 25 May 2013

Does anyone know . . .

. . . what this is, please?

It's come up in a pot and I haven't a clue!  Is it worth tending?

Saturday: rest day!

Another photo of the sunset taken a few days ago.

Good morning, gentle readers.  The half term has started - well, not really started until Monday because we always have Saturday and Sunday, but 'started' will do - and, inevitably, I am up very early and have already emptied the dishwasher, started a loaf of bread (the dough is on its first rise) and written out last night's dressing for my dinner fish fillet, which is now in Teacher's Recipes, here.  As always, do take a lot if you're interested.

Yesterday turned out to be a very busy day with lots to do and lots done.  By the time I got home I was absolutely worn out, but having a friend visiting livened me up no end.  All the same, I was in bed and asleep early, even for me, hence the early waking now.  Never mind, I have all the time in the world today.  I have decided I won't be starting the reports until Tuesday.  The weekend and the bank holiday are going to be rest times, times to potter and dither, relax and do what I fancy doing.  Time in the garden (weather permitting) is on the list and time to sort out the freezer which has become a bit disorganised.  Time to think about frugal recipes and maybe try a few out.  Time to knit and crochet while watching rubbish telly.  Time to just dream and imagine.  Time for me.

Sounds nice, doesn't it?

Diane:  welcome home.  I've missed your entries!

Friday 24 May 2013


And so, finally, we come to the last day of the half term and a very cold day it promises to be too!  Yesterday was flippin' cold too: I chose not to wear tights seeing as I wasn't on playground duty and I regretted that decision  more and more as the day progressed.  his afternoon is playground duty so it's tights ahoy and my winter coat too.
I had heard that wind was expected so I moved the wheelie bins to a place where they were unlikely to be blown over and the fledgling plants indoors, but all seems calm right now.  That's good.  What isn't so good is that we had some hail and, I gather, some sleet, yesterday and aforementioned baby plants got a right battering.  I think most will recover - I hope so anyway!
No sign of the runner beans yet and, in these temperatures, I don't blame them for continuing to sleep in their blankety bed!

I was thinking about my plants and about the tomatoes in particular, especially about the blight that has ruined the crop in the last two years.  The bordeaux mixture I had ordered has arrived so that's good.  However, I read that greenhouse tomatoes tend to escape the blight more, so I looked around on the Internet and invested in a couple of tomato greenhouses - all metal tubing and plastic cover, nothing permanent, but it could be enough to keep the blight at bay.  I'm hoping so anyway, fingers crossed.  At least it won't hurt, the only harm is to my bank account as they weren't cheap.

Today is SEN day and, as always, I have a long list of things to do.  It's jolly nice that I have time out of class for this.  I remember when I had full responsibility, not shared, a lot more SEN issues and no time out of class for my responsibilities at all.  That was hard and I am so glad things have changed for the better since then.

Now I'm off to make some soda bread.  Five minutes with Thermione and half an hour baking.  Easy peasy!

Later: back in and editing to say I've posted the soda bread recipe in Teacher's recipes, here.

Thursday 23 May 2013


Good morning, world!  When the sun came out yesterday it was a delightful day and, early mornings to the contrary, warming up slowly.

At school it was an amazing day.  We have a visit from an Olympic gymnast, Danny Lawrence, with his trainer, who gave the children a demo and than supervised some circuit training with the children.  Huge fun and very inspiring - not that I am inspired in any way to take up handstands, backward somersaults in the air or walking on my hands from one end of the hall to the other but I'm sure you know what I mean!

And then, after school, staff meeting was short and not what we had expected so I was able to get stuff done and still be home earlier than usual to greet my guest.  We have a very pleasant evening chatting about this, that and the other before bedtime!

Yesterday evening I was just sorting out the rubbish for collection today when I noticed the sun was going down over the horizon so I rushed back in, grabbed my camera and took a few snaps.  I'm pleased with them so here's one without the special sunset setting and one with, one with more zoom than the other.  I'm sure I don't need to say which is which!!!

Aren't we lucky to live so close to such a pleasant view over the countryside?

Today I'm out of class a.m. talking to someone doing their head's training about special needs in the school.  I'm not sure how long that would take, but I'm hoping there will be a little bit of spare time for other things.

And now there's two more days to go!  Can't wait!

Wednesday 22 May 2013


I spoke too soon, didn't I?  Yesterday I said it felt warmer.  Then I went out for morning playground duty and it was perishing cold!  Thank goodness it had warmed up by the afternoon when I was on duty again.  There was still quite a breeze but it was milder and very pleasant.
And that was the last morning duty for me this school year.  Next half term is my half term off!  Yay!
It doesn't feel all that warm outside at the moment but inside is pleasantly warm without the radiators, so it can't be all that bad.

As always, today is PPA first thing and then staff meeting after school.  And while all that excitement is going on my friend arrives and makes herself at home (I hope).  Three cheers!

Over the last few days my neighbours have been treated to the sight of me paining my mini apple tree.  Well, not really, but I have been attacking the poor things with a paint brush.  It's Beth's fault really - last year I got precisely three flowers and no apples from my new little redlove apple tree (well, it was a baby!).  This year she suggested I help the pollination on a little bit.  I have absolutely no idea whether it will work or not, I have a horrible feeling it won't and I will have to buy another one, but it's worth a try, isn't it. So for the next several evenings I will be painting the blossom as it opens!
Link to the photo and information.
Very pretty blossom, isn't it?
Three more days to go!

Tuesday 21 May 2013


I think maybe things are beginning to warm up a bit.  Yesterday was dull all day but it wasn't cold, unlike recent dull days, and today it's dry, too gloomy to tell about dullness right now, but definitely not cold, nowhere near a frost.  That is just as well because on Sunday I planted my runner beans.  Fingers crossed!

In the house I have several tomato plants which are going to need planting out soon.  The hundreds and thousands are getting taller and are still in little pots while the ones Dad brought over are also looking pretty healthy and growing rapidly.  As for the courgettes and cucumbers - well, I mustn't dream because they are going to Beth for her TLC, as are most of the Dad-grown tomatoes, but they are looking happy and healthy.

I've decided to plant two of the hundreds and thousands in the wicker surrounded raised bed thing I bought last year.  I was going to plant carrots there but I have more tomato plants than I originally planned for so I have had to change my ideas.  The third one might go in a hanging basket if I can get it organised.  And I MUST get some bordeaux mixture in case of blight!  Over I go to Amazon to order some as it seems impossible to find it at any of our local garden centres.

I drove a bit of a coach and horses through the planning yesterday as we are starting to prepare for a performance of Jack and the Beanstalk and that has to take priority.  They did finish their bean diaries though and now the beans have all gone home.  The parents looked so delighted when they saw them!!!!!!!

Four more days until half term and so much to do it's unbelievable!  I had a lovely surprise last night when a friend contacted to say she would be able to come and visit over the last part of this week, if I could manage it.  Excellent, I'm really excited to see her again, we get on so well.  So tonight I have a bedroom to prepare and she will just have to put up with the mess.  Luckily it isn't as bad as it could have been at the moment which is amazing.  Even the kitchen is relatively clear: I've done so much cooking recently that I've had to keep on top of things.

Well, tempus is fugiting so I'd better give the planning the once over and make sure I have all I need for the day.

Have a good one!

Edited to add something.  I forgot to say that I have posted the recipe for rhubarb sorbet over in Teacher's Recipes.  Do take a look!

Monday 20 May 2013


My Phlox subulata candy stripe which is in full flower at the moment.  It's very pretty.
(this photo was taken last year!)
Good morning!  Wasn't it a lovely day yesterday?  After a dull start it turned warm and sunny.  Very cheering and I felt my spirits rise as the day went on.  Unfortunately, when I went out to the freezer a few minutes ago, I saw that it had been raining and the ground struck chilly under my feet.  Hopefully it will brighten up later on and I guess I am thankful for the rain.  The ground is quite dry and Beth and I planted some runner bean seeds yesterday so rain is a good thing!

It was a most successful day yesterday after not getting as much done as I'd hoped on Saturday *(mainly because I kept getting diverted into kitchen stuff!).  Lunch was scrummy and the rhubarb sorbet was most successful.  We'll do that again.  Beth went home with one half and what's left of the other half is in my freezer.  I will post the recipe at some point, although the method will be for Thermione.
I also managed to create a pea purée that Alex insisted on calling 'pea sauce' and which he quietly finished off in the kitchen as he was clearing the table!  I shall do that again as it was a big hit!  I've described what happened there in last night's update.

I had a go at making some wraps using a recipe from a frugal site, cheating and using Thermione for the kneading, of course, and they were very successful so I have posted the link and Thermione adaptation on Teacher's Recipes - just follow this link.

And, finally, I set to and tackled the enormous pile of ironing that remained in the basket and managed to clear the lot, including some from this weekend's loads - all that was dry, anyway.  To my shame, right at the bottom I found a tablecloth that hasn't been used since just after Christmas!!!  Ah, well, It's done now!

Today should be normal.  School with all that is implied in that word and the meals are all planned.  Pasta and a tomato sauce for lunch (thank goodness for staffroom microwaves!) and a chicken and mango curry for dinner (thank goodness for freezer supplies).  Now I can smell that my porridge is nearly done so I'd better go and rescue it!  I hope it's a good day for us all.

Diane, if you're reading - I hope you are having a wonderful time on holiday.

Sunday 19 May 2013


Good morning, everyone.  It's a bit dull outside but I suppose it would be at this time of day.  It's also cold (no news there then!).  Popping out to the freezer is no pleasure at the moment.  I gather it is going to warm up today so fingers crossed we will end up with a pleasant day for once.

Yesterday was nice.  Not quite the rest I envisaged but nice all the same.  I got an email from Beth in the morning - did I think Thermione would make some of her rhubarb into a sorbet.  I thought so and she brought some round for me to try (the stewed fruit is freezing hard ready to cut into ice cube chunks later on as I type) and we had a good chat over coffee.  I decided that we would have vegetable crumble for dinner today so set to, to make the vegetable mix, totally oblivious to the fact that I already have some in the freezer.  Ho hum!!!  So I have now added to the freezer supplies rather than taking from them!  It's getting hard to find space in the freezer but at least it has to be running more economically now!

The vegetable mix is very tasty, so I've posted the recipe over in Teacher's Recipes.

I finished the day off watching Doctor Who (wasn't it good?!!!) and then tidied up the kitchen before an early night and a great night's sleep.

Today is Beth and Alex day and they will be round for lunch.  Sausages for Alex and vegetable crumble for me and Beth.  I've been very good and taken some mushy peas out of the freezer (more mush than peas, I seem to recall, but never mind) and will also roast some parsnips and Alex can have a couple of hash browns to go with his sausages.  Dessert will, I hope, be rhubarb sorbet (if it works) and if it does work I will post the recipe!

And now I'm off to think about breakfast.  It's food all the way today!  Enjoy your day!

Saturday 18 May 2013


I don't seem to have much luck with my evenings out at the moment.  On Tuesday I was supposed to go to the Hare with two friends but somehow had it in my diary as June, not May.  Yesterday I was supposed to be going to the Civic theatre in town to see a local operatic society perform The Merry Widow.  Indeed, I had organised the outing in my role as KS1 coordinator and was so looking forward to it.  However, by lunchtime yesterday I was starting to feel a bit unwell and this intensified until someone else did my afternoon playground duty and I came home before the end of school.  So no Merry Widow for me.

I'm feeling more normal (whatever that is) now and should be OK today as long as I take life easy.  Given that it's Saturday, I don't think there's much danger of overdoing it at all.  I have some bread rolls to make for Beth, some shopping to do (I will go early and get it over and done), a recipe from Jack Monroe's site to adapt and make (A girl called Jack) and the usual weekend chores.  Apart from that, I reckon sleep will be the best medicine and I intend to get plenty!

So I've already boiled up some butter beans, I will make the bread dough just before I leave for the shops and it will be risen when I came back, then I will make the Jack Monroe recipe (which is the chick pea curry with apricots), get the washing on and then set up in front of rubbish telly with the iron and board and deal with the pile in my ironing basket while the rolls prove.

I like Saturdays.

Friday 17 May 2013


First of all, the advert!  I posted a recipe for savoury rice on TsRs.

After a very cold start yesterday, it turned out to be surprisingly pleasant.  Not that warm, of course, but the sun shone and the children were happy, all the more so because it was inflatables after school and rain would have stopped it, as would very high winds.

We've all seen inflatable castles.  Well, these are several notches up from them and, as lorries drove onto the school field and the inflatables went up (and down again), the excitement levels rose and rose and . . .  The two year 1 bays have windows that open out onto the school field.  A lovely aspect but somewhat of a distraction at times like this.  So mean old teacher pulled down the blinds and threatened no-playtime-if-the-work-wasn't-done which held them for the time needed.  I thought the afternoon would end in tears, they were so excited, but it didn't!

Today is also starting off cold but I'm hoping it will be like yesterday and stay bright for most of the day.  For me it is my SEN day so I'm out of class, working on other things.  Hard work, but different.

Back to yesterday again - as I went into school I saw that my parcel from Lakeland had arrived.  Some anti-mould spray, three rolls of easy-leave, one big roll of perforated cling film and - and - my new pressure cooker.
I've always been a bit terrified of pressure cookers.  I'm sure this is quite unreasonable but . . .
In my relative youth I had one that hissed and clanked away, sending steam in all directions and generally sounding as if it would explode at any moment.  It never did, of course.  Despite this, when I had to move from my previous home I was quite relieved to leave it behind (and I am sure it got chucked as soon as I had gone!).
However, in this project I am undertaking for frugal eating, I have been rediscovering (not that I ever forgot it really) the joys of cooking pulses from scratch rather than opening a tin.  Having scorched two batches of butter beans I decided that I needed (wanted!) a pressure cooker, especially after I read that you don't have to soak them beforehand.  So I looked around and ordered one from Lakeland.  Not the cheapest available but it had good reviews.
Kuhn Rikon Pressure Cooker
Photo taken from the Lakeland site so, as I'm plugging their product, I hope they won't mind!
So yesterday evening I read the instructions carefully, took a deep breath, prayed for courage and - boiled up some kidney beans!  Well, I couldn't believe the difference.  It was quiet, easy, simple and I had a pile of cooked kidney beans in less than half an hour - unsoaked kidney beans too! - and after the initial wibble, I felt safe.

It's chickpeas today!

Thursday 16 May 2013


First of all, if you're interested, yesterday I posted a recipe for ham and split pea soup over in Teacher's Recipes.  Just follow the link!

It's another cold morning here after some parts of the country had a surprise fall of snow yesterday.  What a shock it must have been, not a terribly pleasant one either as it didn't look the kind of snow that was much fun but very wet and yucky.  None around here though, thank goodness, although there was definitely an icy chill in the air and I was selfishly thankful that it wasn't my playground duty.  Today, whatever the weather, I'm back into tights and shoes.  My toes were freezing yesterday, even in school before the heating was turned back on.  Such cold for May!  Yet again, I am extremely glad my baby plants are still indoors.

Yesterday morning I woke tired and listless after a very bad night's sleep (stuff on my mind).  Last night was quite a different kettle of fish.  After battling to stay awake all evening I went up at around nine and can't remember much more until just after four this morning.  There's nothing like a good night's sleep to make one feel better about life in general, is there?

I'm looking forward to today.  Some good activities planned and I hope the sun will shine all day.  Fingers crossed anyway!

Wednesday 15 May 2013


We really did get lucky yesterday.  Not only did my littlies get their morning play and their outdoor games lesson, they also got their lunchtime play and they nearly got their afternoon play too.  However, it started raining just as we went out and it got harder so rapidly we all turned round and went straight back in again.  I was extremely glad I had brought the car to school, I can tell you.
It's still dismal now - it's windy, there's rain in the air and it looks cold (I'm not checking properly as I want to stay warm!).

Yesterday was just another happy day really.  Teaching, marking, making, preparing, evaluating, assessing . . . all the usual things us 'lazy teachers' do as a matter of course.  after school I managed to get a lot of things ready for today too, before I was booted out because S wanted to lock up, so I'm not in a rush this morning.  Excellent!

Today, being Wednesday, is PPA time.  It seems to come around so quickly and I'm finding it impossible to realise that we are half way through week five of this half term.  Everyone is saying the same - this half term has simply whizzed past: in fact we were doubting that it really was week 5 at one point and someone checked in their diary to make sure.  You'd think we were accustomed to it by now and I suppose it's a sure sign that we are busy and relatively contented.

I should have been going out for a meal last night but I had the wrong date in my diary - I had June, not May.  As it was, I couldn't go, so we've rescheduled it for next week instead.  Thank goodness for understanding friends.  So sorry, my dears!

And now I need to look to my planning to check that all is ready and in order for today.  Have a good'un!

Tuesday 14 May 2013


Brrrr - it's chilly outside.  I had to pop out to the shed to put some things in the freezer that I should have done last night but forgot.  I had actually gone out to get things out of the freezer, found they weren't there so came back to look in the fridge.  Lo and behold, there they were, so out I went again to deposit them in chilly preservation!  All but the one portion I needed, of course!  And it felt cold . . . very!

The weather forecast for today is atrocious!  Rain, rain and more rain.  It's my day for playground duty, morning and afternoon but, if they are correct, that ain't going to happen.  Neither, unfortunately, is outdoor games after play this morning.  I'm sure my littlies will be delighted with the maths lesson they will have instead.  Not!
And I will take my car today!

Yesterday - well, yesterday was a normal day apart from me not having my class a.m.  I got loads done including a whole class-worth of story writing marked.  That can take absolutely ages and ages so I was glad to cross it off the list.  I also got the tickets for The Merry Widow (we're going on Friday) given out so that's another thing crossed off the list.

In the afternoon . . . well, to backtrack, when I arrived at school in the morning there was a bit of a pong in my bay because some of the runner beans we planted had gone mouldy.  Sad, but a useful lesson in 'yes, plants need water but too much is Not A Good Thing'.  So in the afternoon half the class replanted their runner bean seeds, the other half looking smugly on as theirs had germinated and, in most cases, were sending up exciting looking stems with seed leaves in evidence!.

Ah, how disappointing life can be at times . . .  :-)

Monday 13 May 2013


Good morning, everybody.  Monday again and it's pretty dull outside at the moment.  A bit like yesterday minus the rain, but it does look as if we might be getting rain at some point.  No complaints about the rain but I do wish it would warm up a little bit.  The heating clicked on during the day yesterday!!

I enjoyed the roast chicken yesterday (as did Alex!).  Handy Andy does cook it so well and the brining prevents the bird from drying out as it might normally.  I make up a mild brine solution (not too salty but I'm not totally accurate regarding amounts), submerse the whole chicken into it, cover and leave in the fridge overnight.  Then the next morning I take it out, rinse it, pat it  dry and leave to get up to room temperature.  Then it is into Handy Andy (my halogen cooker) for 25 mins upside down and then 25 to 30 mins the right way up.  Then leave it in the oven to stand for about 15 mins.  No covering with anything, no need for butter, oil or anything else (although butter does give a lovely flavour).  The chicken is perfectly done, moist, tender and easy to slice.  The flip side is that so little juice comes out of it there's nothing for gravy!
I carved half of it plus the other drumstick and between me and Alex we accounted for the lot (Alex more than me, needless to say).  With chips, broccoli and carrots and a tomato sauce instead of gravy it made a most colourful meal, good to look at and good to eat!  And I have loads left over for this week.

With any luck the pressure cooker I ordered will arrive today or tomorrow.  If it does, its first job will be to deal with the carcass.  After doing a carcass in Thermione, never again.  Even with reverse low speed all the bits of meat got shredded and thoroughly mixed with the gunk.  You live and learn, don't you?

While Beth was round we got going with the cosmos seedlings dad brought over on Tuesday - hundreds of them!  Of course, we don't want or need hundreds, so we pricked out the most likely looking ones into little home made loo roll pots. Beth will take most of them but I will plant some in the back garden and perhaps a few round the front too, although they do grow very large so it might not be the right place.  However, I can but try and if it's not right I can have them up again.

Cosmos in the garden two summers ago
When Beth and Alex turned up they came bearing gifts - several sticks of rhubarb, fresh picked from their allotment, with the leaves still on.  As soon as they had gone I set to and stewed them up with some demerara sugar and some root ginger and it was delicious.  Several little individual portions are no nestling in the freezer.  Thank you, Beth and Alex - lovely!

Today I have my PPA time, missed last week.  Perfect timing for me, no complaints whatsoever.  A great start to the week!  Fingers crossed that it brightens up a bit though.

Sunday 12 May 2013


I've posted a recipe for lentil burgers over in Teacher's Recipes, if you're interested.  Just follow the link!

Adverts over!
It was a lovely, sunny day yesterday for about half the day and then the clouds gathered and the heavens opened.  I'm not terribly sorry as the garden really did need a good soaking.  There's no frost this morning but it's jolly chilly and I am thankful for the central heating, believe me!

Although I woke very early, I didn't go back to bed and didn't nap much in the afternoon so by the evening I was weary and, after snoozing my way through a programme about Star Trek (it didn't seem very interesting), I went up and slept solidly until just before five this morning.
It was a good day:  I semi-created two recipes, finished the banana pancake recipe, made some bread, did a bit of shopping, washing and tidying and chilled out.  Nice!

I spent a bit though.  I popped into town to get some tickets and on the way home I diverted to Matalan as my bag is fraying round the edges so much that I am ashamed of it.  I managed to find one that will do and that wasn't too expensive.  In fact, it was reduced because a little bit had come off.  Why they didn't just put it back on I will never know.  It was in the bag and I reattached it when I got home.  I also bought some plastic pots ideal for my school lunches and some white dishes.
Then I popped into the next shop which is one of those cheap food shops and managed to get four cans of chopped tomatoes for £1 which is even cheaper than Aldi, Lidl and Morrison's value.  I have no idea what they're like but we shall see as I will have chicken to use up this week so will need chopped tomatoes.
I'm hoping that the pressure cooker will arrive tomorrow or Tuesday so I can try boiling up the carcass in it.

As for today, Beth and Alex will be here for lunch so I'm roasting a chicken and will have it with new potatoes, broccoli and something else, probably carrots.  Nice and traditional.  Beth has the lentil patties I made yesterday and I shall concoct a tomato sauce for her instead of gravy.  I'm not sure about dessert.  I have a bramley apple to use up and some stewed plums in the freezer so I'll probably do those with a yoghurt topping.

Well, the chicken has been brining overnight so I'd better go and rescue it, rinse it off, dry it and let it come up to room temperature before roasting.  Then I need to make my breakfast as the old tum is starting to grumble!

Have a lovely day, whatever you are doing.

Saturday 11 May 2013

Over in Teacher's Recipes

My recipe for banana and bacon pancakes with maple syrup (yum)


It's early Saturday morning.  Of course, I turned off the alarm yesterday and I don't have to get up, go anywhere, do anything, etc, so, of course, I woke at stupid o'clock.  I'll go back to bed later on, get some more sleep, but right now I'm wide awake!  Very annoying!

After umming and ahing yesterday evening, I decided to make an online order to Lakeland rather than go in this morning, and I'm glad I did as it looks as if it's been raining and might still be.  I'm not terribly fond of town shopping at the best of times, certainly not when it is raining!  I wanted to order the pressure cooker they sell and as that made it free postage I looked around to see if I needed anything else, remembering I'd said I'd get some anti mould spray and that I was out of easy-leave and getting short of their perforated cling film.  So the order is now in and should be delivered to school next week at some point.,  And then I can cook pulses very, very quickly.  Yay!  Thermione can't do everything, she just thinks she can!!!

I spent most of the day either filing, clearing out or doing paperwork.  There seemed to be a lot, one way or another, and I am extremely glad that I have Monday out of class to carry on with it.  In fact, I have a great long list of things to do on Monday morning so fingers crossed that I get it all done!

Today is a rest day.  That doesn't mean I don't have any work to do but it does mean I shall take it easy and pace things out.  I need to make something vegetarian for Beth for tomorrow, perhaps in the lentil burger line, and I need to get the chicken into brine before roasting tomorrow, plus the usual washing, drying, ironing, etc, but I can pace things out.  Should be an easy day.

And now I fancy another coffee . . .

Friday 10 May 2013


It's all a bit of a rush so, again, this is going to be short.

It's a very blustery morning but nothing like as bad as yesterday.  I came home last night to a right mess of rubbish over my front patch, presumably from a blown over wheelie bin.  Having tidied that up, I decided to wheel mine into the shelter of the open porch, just in case.  It was jolly cold too - the heating clicked on, I shut all the windows and wrapped a fleece around myself.  i also popped a throw over my duvet at bedtime.

Today is my SEN day and I have a whole long list of things to do, some of which is not SEN but PPA as I didn't get my PPA time last Wednesday.  Because of that, I have Monday morning, so I am sharing the work out between one and t'other responsibilities, with due gratitude for the flexibility thereof.

I'm thinking more about my Cheaper than Chips project because it seems to me very stupid to have meals and food in the freezer that I'm not using up because I cannot cost it out.  That's just daft and against the principles of all this, which is basically to be a better steward of the money I have and to develop more frugal habits while still eating well and healthily.  So it's all change but for the good, I think.

Better go - bath time!  Enjoy the day.

Thursday 9 May 2013

A recipe . . .

. . . in Teacher's recipes.  Vegetable chilli.  Follow the link if you're interested.  :-)


There isn't much to write about at the moment.  Things are ticking over smoothly enough (touch wood) and there's little of note to write about.  Sad?  Well, no, not really.

We had a quick infant staff meeting after school yesterday and sorted out sports day, arranged a few bits and bobs and generally had rather a laugh.  When I went home, all was peaceful as my guests had departed earlier in the day so I chilled out, wolfed down a good sized salad from party leftovers and went to bed early - which is why I am up early this morning too.

Now I had better do some work in preparation for the day ahead.  Have a good one.

The other day I was looking round for something to photograph when my eye fell on this - a salt dough creation made many years ago by a friend who has a small business . . .

. . . and here's a detail from it.  Good, isn't it?

Wednesday 8 May 2013


Happy Birthday, Alex!!!!

After the party yesterday evening I was most grateful that Beth took most of the leftover food home with her as it was seriously tempting.  Thanks very much for a lovely tea.

Apart from that, yesterday was as normal.  School passed OK.  I did my two playground duties and missed the rain.  I had a meeting after school.  I came home to a party.  Nice day!

Today is PPA and staff meeting.  Thirteen more teaching days until half term.  Yay!!!

Tuesday 7 May 2013


Still quite busy so this is short.  Just a few photos taken while I was away.

Have a super day.

Monday 6 May 2013

Broccoli soup recipe

I've posted a recipe for broccoli soup over on the other blog.  It was really delicious and well frugal so I'm happy to share!

Here it is.

Weekend photos: Wrest Park

The bulbs were stunning

The sort of thing that catches my eye!


I liked the zebra patterns made by sun and shadow.

Some magnificent trees!



. . . and for once it looks as if a Bank Holiday is going to give us the weather we want.  Sun and warmth - even if the warmth is comparative.  It's lovely out there at the moment.

Yesterday we took a trip to Wrest Park.  I'd never heard of the place but we will be going back at some point.  It is delightful.  The houser is just a bit open with a couple of rooms and a very interesting display, there are a few formal gardens which are packed with tulips right now and there are walks all around the fairly compact grounds.  Nothing is too demanding an it's the perfect place to come with the family for a day out.

I took some photos which I will post when I have had time to go though them to weed out the bad ones and crop the better ones.

Today is a busy day because tomorrow the family descends on me for a buffet in the evening to celebrate a birthday!  I'm not doing the buffet but I do have to deal with the mess in the house.  It's not dire, but it will take some sorting.  So that's my task for today, along with exploratory visits to Lidl and Aldi (we are lucky enough to have both here) and the making of copious loaves of bread for all and sundry!  I must cost out a loaf made in the breadmaker!

And minor detail - I have some planning to do too, darn it.

Have a grand day, everyone.

Sunday 5 May 2013


What luxury.  Here I am, sitting in bed on my new laptop (school laptop, I hasten to add), coffee beside me, making vague and general plans for the day ahead.  The sun is shining, the forecast is promising, there's no frost and no rush!  Bliss.

As planned, yesterday I tackled two shelves in my food cupboards and ended up with a heavy bin bag, a stack of empty storage containers (now clean too) and a vastly more usable cupboard of supplies.  There are some more shelves that also need tackling in the same way although they won't take as long, or be as wasteful.  Maybe, for the future, I will be a little - OK, a lot - more selective in what I buy.
The other thing I did, for the stuff that I kept, was to look up current prices and label the containers with cost per 10g or 50g, depending!  That should save some time.

Well, better get going I suppose.  Things won't get done just by thinking of them.  Have as lovely day and may the sun shine on you.

Saturday 4 May 2013


Taken on my walk home from school a couple of days ago.

Good morning, everyone.  Judging by the amount of sunlight streaming through the windows right now, it's going to be another lovely day, weather-wise.  Yesterday was gorgeous too despite the cold and frosty morning, a very long way from the snow we had around a month ago.  For the first time this week there wasn't a little nip in the air when the wind blew and, if I hadn't been busy, I'd have sat out in the garden when I got home from school.

It was a very pleasant day in other ways too.  The 'cheaper than chips' project is going very well (so it should just one week in) and I'm feeling all the better for more frugal eating in more than just a physical way.  The interviewing was fun, the farewell lunch was most enjoyable, everyone has been very cheerful now that spring is here, Andrea and I got both our displays done and dusted so that's now off our conscience and, best of all, we were all looking forward to a long weekend with great pleasure!

When I did my weekly shop (quite a small one too - great!), I saw that Morrison's had some garden herb plants in.  I already have bay, mint, sage, chives and rosemary, but the thyme seems to have bitten the dust so I lavished a whole pound on a pot.  Given that you can spend around that on a packet of cut sprigs of thyme, that represents frugality at its best, I reckon.  At the moment it's sitting on the window ledge but it will get planted out at some point.

Today will be good.  Family stuff is always lovely.  I'm off out to watch a local show this evening.  What's not to love there?  I love this relaxed, contented feeling.

And I've posted a recipe for what I think is a very delicious soup on Teacher's Recipes.  Carrot and lentil soup.  Yum.  Just follow the link.

I've decided that I am going to turn out my 'dry goods' cupboards and sort stuff out.  Unfortunately, I am sure I will need to discard some stuff as it's very old, but it will all make a lot more sense and be more accessible and usable   I need to know what's there and I've forgotten what's in the containers behind the ones I use regularly.  Wish me luck - I may be gone some time!

Friday 3 May 2013


Wasn't yesterday glorious?  In fact, this whole week has been wonderfully bright and sunny, despite there still being a bit of a nip in the air and my goodness, how the plants are responding to this sunlight!!!  Everything is blooming and blossoming: the air is fragrant and there is fresh colour all around.  So cheering.

Yesterday I went to a SENCo training at our local special school.  It was about 'Attachment' and, while I won't bore you with any details, it was extremely interesting and very informative.  When I got back to school all was calm and it remained so for the rest of the day - just as well because M and I were 'in charge' yesterday.

Today is SEN day and there are interviews for a range of LSA posts.  I enjoy interviewing (providing I'm on the right side of the table) so today should be good.

Changing the subject completely I read somewhere that you can make pancakes using banana instead of egg so guess what!  I'm having a go at that this morning.  I'm also going all american with bacon on the side.  I may be mad here but if you don't try you never find out.  And bananas are free while eggs cost 17p!
I'll let you know.

And it's nearly the weekend!

Thursday 2 May 2013


How quickly these weeks are rolling round.  Thursday again - just one more day (OK, two, because it's just the beginning of today) and we will be half way through the half term and into a long weekend with a Bank Holiday on Monday).  I'm starting to feel little trickles of excitement when I think about the summer break: it's getting closer and closer now.

Yesterday was just a nice, ordinary day.  No dramas, no catastrophes, no disasters.  Days like yesterday are good!  From PPA in the morning to staff meeting after school, things moved easily along.

It may have been a frosty start but it was gloriously sunny all day.  It helps so much when the sun shines.

. . . to evening.
Today I am out of school all morning, going with my co-SENCo to Columbus school for training on Attachment Disorder.  It should be extremely interesting.  And then it's back in the afternoon to finish off our May blossom trees with some little greet prints, representing the emerging leaves.  The children have enjoyed this activity, not the least because they get to 'choose' while it's going on as I work with a group at a time.

They have to work this morning though.  Today they are developing a character for 'Little Ted' - where he lives, what he likes, what he dislikes, who his friends are, his favourite food, etc . . . - at least, that's what I have set for the supply teacher.  Plus maths, two sessions of phonics and Reading Revelry.  By the end of the morning they will be more than ready for some nice, relaxing art!

I hope . . .

Wednesday 1 May 2013

Recipe in TsRs

I've just posted the Butter bean burger recipe in Teacher's Recipes, if you're interested.


I came down very early this morning and started working.  Within an hour I thought 'Hmm - it's a bit cold' and sure enough, there was a frost again.    I tell myself I burn more calories when it is cold!!!

Yesterday was a bit stressful one way and another, with an important meeting pm, but I was pleased that I didn't head for the food straight afterwards.  When I got home I made the butter bean and bacon crumble and it was jolly nice.  I did enjoy it.  Not long after that it was early to be, which explains why I was up at stupid o'clock this morning.  Never mind, I got some work done, that's the main thing.

Today is PPA, ICT, art and library last thing - a nice day indeed.  And then there's a butter bean burger for tea.  Yes, more butter beans - I cooked 100g (dry weight) and they've made four meals (with other stuff) so well worth doing.  I'll probably post the burger recipe but want to taste it first!!!

Better go!  Despite such an early start, I'm running out of time now.  Enjoy your day!