Sunday 31 December 2017

Sunday: The Sixth Day of Christmas

Good morning.  What a change in the weather yesterday.  The temperature was into double figures and a good ten degrees up from Thursday.  Very changeable and also very windy.  I've just peeked out and it's still very mild but doesn't seem too windy.

(Edited around three hours later - just peeked out and it is both windy and chucking it down like old boots.  Disgusting weather!)

Yesterday was a lazy day.  I did some washing and drying and a bit of cooking but apart from that I lazed and snoozed and generally wasted my time.  The evening was enlivened by 'A Christmas Carol goes wrong', something I was looking forward to after last years 'Peter Pan goes wrong'.  Lots of chuckles and some hearty laughs too - most enjoyable.

Today's letter is T.  I've already had one T so I really had to think before it came to me.  OK, I have had to spend but it works with what I said about staying warm a few days ago.

So T is for Thermal Slipper Socks.  Not terribly romantic or blingy but I'd rather be warm than elegant, to be honest.  The design is snowflakes so there's the festive link.  Thank you, Amazon.  It's the only thing I have bought for this Twelve Days theme so far but if we continue to have weather like the last three or four weeks, they will be very handy - or do I mean footsy?

So here we go; this is what I've done so far.
T:   Turkey - dealing with the Christmas bird
W:  Winter Ware - using my Christmas plates
E:   Exercise and Energy - start to get moving over the new year
L:   Low-fat Living - the side effects of a very low fat diet
F:   Festive Fish - kedgeree or the like
T:   Thermal slipper socks - warm toes = happy me

Saturday 30 December 2017

Saturday: The Fifth Day of Christmas

Good morning.  When I woke yesterday it was to teeming rain that was making great inroads into any snow left lying.  As our snow cleared, further north they got a shedload of the stuff so good luck to them.  I'm happy to be a little bit warmer.

Today's letter is F.  F for Festive Fish.
I don't eat enough fish really and I ought to have more, maybe twice a week.  I have decided that today's treat will be a fish dish, maybe something like kedgeree which is - or can be - pretty low fat apart from the fish oil and which I love but hardly ever have.  There's loads of recipes out there, from Delia, Jamie, Nigella, James (Martin) and someone called 'Easy'!!
Even better, I have some smoked haddock and a bit of smoked salmon in the freezer right now.
How can I make it festive?  Well, apart from the smoked salmon which always reminds me of Christmas by association, maybe be adding some dried cranberries which seem to go so well with savoury foods  And, of course, it will be eaten off my Winter Ware.  :-)

So here we go:
T:   Turkey - dealing with the Christmas bird
W:  Winter Ware - using my Christmas plates
E:   Exercise and Energy - start to get moving over the new year
L:   Low-fat Living - the side effects of a very low fat diet
F:   Festive Fish - kedgeree or the like
(bit of a mixed bag, isn't it?)

Another T tomorrow.  I will have to put on my thinking cap.  But the one for New Year's Day is a gift (I don't mean a present, I mean easy to work out).  I wonder if you can work out what it will be!

Friday 29 December 2017

Friday: The Fourth Day of Christmas

Good morni . . . I mean evening, everyone.  Apologies for such a late entry.  Life complications (a family illness) are going to make things a bit erratic for a while, I think.  However, as they say, better late than never.

There's not much I can share about yesterday or today (not my story to tell) so on to the Fourth Day
These twelve days are starting to sound a lot like a mix of treats and new year resolutions, which I don't really do but never mind.

L is for Low-fat Living.  I'm rather enjoying being challenged by the need to eat low fat and it's going OK (we will forget about this past Christmas week, OK?) but I have noticed two things.
One is that I feel a lot colder than I used to, it's not a problem I have particularly had before and it's not just that the weather has been cold.  So I shall be treating myself to some more of those nice, fluffy slipper socks when I find them in the shops.  There were loads in before Christmas but not so many now.   Another lovely gift was a white, fluffy throw and, with that and my owl fleece, I can wrap myself up warm and cosy.
The other is that my skin is a lot dryer than it used to be, especially my hands.  I was given some lovely hand cream for Christmas so I shall treat my hands to regular treatments.  Hopefully that will sort it out.  That means that I have to sit and relax for sessions each day because I have to rub the cream in and let it sort of absorb before I go round touching anything else.  Sounds like a good spoil to me.

So here we are so far.
T     Turkey
W:   Winter Ware
E:    Exercise and Energy
L:    Low-fat Living

Good, eh?

Thursday 28 December 2017

Thursday: The Third Day of Christmas

Good morning, everyone.  Did you get caught out by the snow yesterday?  We certainly did here.  We were forecast heavy rain and perhaps some sleet and instead we got the heaviest snow I have seen in a long while that started settling, despite the very wet ground.  There was also a strong wing which made it all very dramatic and it put the clappers on going out, which was a real nuisance.

Not a very good photo of across the field to the farmhouse, but you get the idea.  The snow was more or less horizontal in the strong wind.

So I stayed in, daring the journey to the shed now and again, and dealt with the rest of the turkey - everything in the freezer, boxes of meat and boxes of stock.

Today's letter is E.  E is for Exercise and Energy.  A short while ago I bought some old Rosemary Conley Salsacise DVDs from Amazon and I'm going to start using them.  I used them a long time ago and got on very well with them so fingers crossed.  I know it's not much like a treat, but the results will be good and I should feel more energetic.

T   Turkey
W   Winter Ware
E   Exercise and Energy

Things are a little difficult around here right now so if by any chance I miss a few days, please don't worry.  I will be back.

Wednesday 27 December 2017

Wednesday: The Second Day of Christmas

Good morning, everyone.
It's turned considerably colder since Christmas Day, hasn't it?  It has here anyway.  I woke early (again) and turned the electric blanket on for a while.  We had some heavy rain yesterday evening which seems to have stopped for the present, but the forecast is not great for today.

Today is W in the Twelve Days:  Winter Ware.  No, I haven't spelt that wrongly, I mean ware as in tableware.  When I emptied the dressers, etc, to have downstairs redecorated this summer, I re-discovered some Christmas plates.  Not a whole set, just two very large plates and three dinner-sized plates.  I bought them on Ebay, ages ago, when it was fairly new, comparatively un-commercialised and you could get real, genuine bargains.  The two huge plates are of the Spode Christmas Tree design, as are two of the dinner plates.  The third is a Portmerion The Holly and the Ivy design.  They're really lovely so, as a treat to myself, I will use the dinner plates until January 6th and maybe the huge plates as a sort of serving dish.

Yesterday was a very quiet, gentle day.  I almost made it a PJ day but decided not to, just in case I fancied going out.  I dealt with the turkey first thing - very organised this year - and now have stacks of cut off meat plus lots that boiled off the bones which will be fine for hotpot, pie and so on.  I shall zizz some into meat paste.  I also have loads of the most gorgeous, thick, jellied stock which I will use for all sorts of things.  Oh - and a stack of bones and other inedible bits which will go into the food recycling.
I do a three stage boil up.  A short one to loosen the rest of the chunks of meat and then another long, slow one to get as much flavour as possible out of the bones, skin, etc.  Then a final boil to reduce it all down.

I did the little bit of tidying up needed and swept the carpet before settling down with my Kindle and some recipe books.  I'm back on the food bandwagon again today after two days of indulgence that I seem to have got away with, fingers crossed, but no more tempting fate.

Today I will be out visiting which will be very pleasant.  Then it is back home and I must think ahead to when tuition resumes again next week.  For now, I must empty the dishwasher:  I've got into the habit of using it overnight on the cheaper rate and it is nice to have a relatively tidy kitchen each morning.  I didn't realise how much I missed having a reliable dishwasher until I got this one just before Christmas.

Well, I'd better go and get started.  First thing is coffee and while the kettle is boiling, I'll do dishwasher duty!  Have a good day and stay warm.

Here's how the Twelfth Night acrostic is working out so far
T:      Turkey
W:     Winter Ware

Tuesday 26 December 2017

Boxing Day: The First Day of Christmas

Good morning, everyone, and welcome to Boxing Day.  It's all gone quiet here which is great.  I love peace and quiet - maybe it comes from teaching little ones all my adult life!!!

For various reason, Christmas was different this year, with some family not able to come to over, no-one staying here and a lot of old traditions gone.  However, in some ways, I felt a sense of freedom to do what I wanted to do, when I wanted to do it, how I wanted to do it.  I found that a lot stayed the same but the pressure was off to get it 'right' (a self imposed pressure, I hasten to add).

The day started early, as usual.  I made my lists before starting to work through them and took great delight in crossing things off as they were done.  Because I have no guests, I didn't have to worry about a formal breakfast, so got the table laid early.  Because it's a Kellybronze, the turkey took very little preparation.  Because I'd made a lot in advance, the pace was slower.  All nice.

There's not an awful lot left of the vegetables which all disappeared surprisingly quickly.  We all love out veg in my family and, although I had roasties, carrots, parsnips, sprouts and mixed peas and corn, there's only a bit of the last two for today and I'm right out of carrots.  Oh, well, never mind.

After the main course and dessert (Christmas pud, mince pies and a very nice fruit salad), no-one had room for the cheese so I left that out with the Christmas cake and that morphed into tea/supper so I had no more work to do.  It was lovely and casual.  The 'youngsters' played a board game Dave and Anna had brought round which seemed to create great mirth at times while, for the first time ever, I watched Doctor Who and the Christmas Strictly at the right time.  Most enjoyable.

As I don't get the decorations up until as close to Christmas as possible, I do the traditional thing and keep everything up/out until Twelfth Night, that's Jan 6th.  This year I have decided to make a new tradition for myself and each of the twelve days of Christmas will be marked by doing something Christmassy.  I might always do it anyway but this year I will identify it as celebratory.  It won't have to be fancy, big, important stuff, in fact I doubt if any of it will be really, but it will be my contribution towards keeping the old tradition going.
I'd love to make each one spell out the letters of twelfth night: for example, today could be T for turkey, but I bet I can't!

So today, no partridge in a pear tree, just a great old turkey carcass to strip and boil up.  No throwing out if I can help it; I will continue to enjoy the feast either by using myself or by gifting on.   I'll reduce some of the resulting stock right down, freeze it and use it in next year's gravy - this is what I did last year and this year's gravy was to die for, even though it was so simple to make.

But first, I was given a wonderful gift of a box containing a small cafetiere, some coffee and some nibbly things.  I will 'christen' the cafetiere and coffee this morning, right now!  Then the kitchen needs just a bit of sorting out and there's a dishwasher to empty so better get going!

Happy Boxing Day to you all!

Monday 25 December 2017

Christmas Day

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.

Enough for Him, whom cherubim, worship night and day,
Breastful of milk, and a mangerful of hay;
Enough for Him, whom angels fall before,
The ox and ass and camel which adore.

Angels and archangels may have gathered there,
Cherubim and seraphim thronged the air;
But His mother only, in her maiden bliss,
Worshipped her 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.

Christine Rosetti

Sunday 24 December 2017

Christmas Eve

Good morning, everyone, and welcome to Christmas Eve.

As I mentioned, yesterday I had a go at Gluten free bread using a packet of Dove gluten free bread flour.  It was certainly different: no kneading, you whisk up a batter, then add the flour and the yeast, let it rise to the top of the tin and then bake.  No free-form shaping, etc.  The texture is 'funny' but the flavour is quite good and I hope it is acceptable because, even on special, the flour was flipping expensive!

Then I had a go at making pastry using the same flour to make a few mince pies for gluten free person.  It's brown flour so the results look rather - er - 'healthy', but the little nibble I tried was OK, I know the mincemeat is nice as it is my own home-made stuff and I smothered them with caster sugar once they had cooled.  I only made three so, if they are rejected with scorn, it's not a problem.

I got the ironing done although there's a little bit left for today.  In fact, this morning is filled with 'little bits' although I've made a good start.  The ham is on, the giblets are on and the sprouts are peeled and in a bag in the fridge.  I just have to finish bits off, do a general tidy, a bit of a clean (the bits that show) and go over my lists and then I can start prepping for this evening - not that it will take much prepping really.

To you, all my readers, I would like to wish a very, very happy and peaceful Christmas with lots of good things to give you contentment and joy.

Saturday 23 December 2017


Good morning, everyone.  It was a damp and dismal day yesterday but don't the twinkling lights make a difference?  They are very cheering: at the moment, the first thing I do when I get downstairs is switch on the Christmas tree lights and the last thing at night is switch them off again.  I'm very glad the tree is staying up until Twelfth Night.

I was going to do the last early morning shop this morning but after my very early start yesterday, by six thirty I thought 'Why not?' and set off.  Now it is all done and I doubt I will need to see the inside of a food shop this side of New Year!

The turkey is here too, sitting happily in a roasting dish in the fridge.  I'm in two minds whether to brine it or not . . . after all, it is a Norfolk Bronze with great flavour and easy to carve anyway.   Decisions, decisions.  Thankfully it is not too big.

Yesterday was fairly busy in the morning but, in the afternoon, Beth, Jane and Liza turned up and we had a happy chat over coffee, biscuits and fudge.  It was lovely to see my nativity set (beautiful, old, wooden) being played with again, just as Alex used to play with it and Beth and Dave before that.  It should be played with, handled, loved: it is so beautiful and tactile.

After they had gone, I finished off the ironing and dealt with the turkey which had arrived while they were with me.  As I said above, thankfully, it is not too big this year; in fact it fits into the fridge with room to spare which I am glad about as it's not that cold in the shed this year. 
I don't want loads and loads of leftovers as I will not be feeding large numbers of people on Boxing Day and beyond this year.

On to today.  Originally I was going to cook the ham today but I decided this was a bit too early so it will come out of the freezer today and I will cook it tomorrow.  It's not a big piece so I will just boil it rather than boiling and then roasting.  We like it just as much the simple way.  I will also deal with the giblets for the gravy tomorrow, boiling them with bay and thyme from the garden and a few aromatic spicy bits and bobs.

The other thing I need to do is bake some bread.  Not any ordinary bread but some gluten-free bread.  I found some Dove gluten free flour when I went to a health food place near mum and dad's and decided I really MUST have a go.  If it's a failure, there's still time to pop round to Morrisons to buy some.  It's a very different strategy but, dear me, let's step out of my comfort zone and give it a go!  Watch this space!

I think I have enough stuff for one more load of washing and if I get it in early, it will dry and can be ironed and put away today.  After that, not a chance until the middle of next week!

Once all the niggling little chores have also been done, I shall sit down and watch the Christmas films I didn't watch yesterday because telly turned out to be better than I thought it would be.

So a busy day today but a happy one and I shall enjoy it.  I hope yours is good too.

Friday 22 December 2017


Good morning, everyone.
I seem to have dropped back into the stupid o'clock waking habit.  I suppose it's because I have Christmas stuff on my mind but it's very annoying.  I like an early start but . . .

Oh, what a lovely day I had yesterday despite the damp fogginess and gloom.  It was the shortest day but I got a lot done.

I started off with the tea loaves: a basic and very simple recipe that I glammed up with cranberries and spices before baking in two 1lb tins.  Oh, it did smell nice and the glory is that a) it has no fat and b) it is moist enough to enjoy without any butter (although butter would be great!).  They are sliced and frozen now although I might possibly admit to a sneaky slice with my mid morning coffee.

I paid Sainsbury's an early morning visit and, apart from the internet shoppers, it was very slack.  Not the least bit of a hassle at all and I got everything on my list.  Now it's just a very small shop at Morrison's for some veg and dairy on Saturday and then if we don't have it, we won't have it.

Then I set to with the veggy 'sausage' rolls.  This is the recipe I use, but I get puff pastry from the shop rather than make my own.  Thermione came into her own here, making the breadcrumbs, finely chopping the onions and mixing the whole lot together before I rolled the pastry and made them up.  They're now in the freezer, uncooked, having been frozen on a baking sheet before bagging.

While I made the rolls, Thermione earned her Christmas space by kneading the bread dough which is now two 1 lb loaves guess where - yup, the freezer!

When I was in the garage getting out the Christmas tree on Wednesday, I noticed a box with a cookie press inside, something I had forgotten I had.  So I brought it in, looked up a recipe and had a go.  It has lots of Christmas shapes - tree, snowman, candy cane, bauble and the recipe made loads although it wasn't as easy as I expected and quite a lot are a bit ragged around the edges.  However, I will forget about making shortbread now and have these instead. 

I wasn't all that happy with the stuffing I made earlier (I knew I should have got Paxo, not Morrison's) so I made a bit more.  Stuffing is complicated as I need gluten free, vegetarian and sage and onion with added ham to suit all tastes.  However, fortunately, the gluten free stuffing mix is also vegetarian friendly and I added a bit more sage, onion and some dried cranberries to zing it up a bit so I only have to make two lots, not three. We do like our stuffing in my family!  The other stuff I made won't be wasted as it is frozen is more or less single portions and, apart from having as stuffing, will be useful when making veggie burgers and all sorts of other patty-type things.  Guess where it is now!

On reflection, isn't it a jolly good thing I defrosted and generally cleared out the freezers the other week?

AND loving having a reliable dishwasher again.  It made all the difference yesterday.

Today the turkey comes to stay for a few days.  I do housework, general clearing and tidying, make sure my menus are OK and complete and then - I think I will sit and watch Christmas films.  Miracle on 34th Street and The Muppet's Christmas Carol are both lovely.

Well, let's get started.  I have a dishwasher that needs unloading, a downstairs to tidy ready for the cleaner and coffee to make.  Real coffee today, I think. 
Have a good day!

Thursday 21 December 2017


Good morning, everyone.  A terribly early start, even for me, but I will get back to sleep in a while and finish off the night.  No idea of the weather but it doesn't feel particularly chilly, even without a dressing gown.

Yesterday was one of those days when you feel as if you've been on the go all day without getting all that much done, if you know what I mean..

In the morning I picked Alex up and he and I worked together to put up and decorate the Christmas tree as we chatted and Alex sang his version of the Twelve Days of Christmas.  It was funny but not rude - and it could have been, him now being a student and all.  It's twinkling behind my back as I type and the room is now very festive.  I dug out my Christmas tablecloths as well so the table matches the rest of the room.

When we'd finished that, I finished making the roast dinner and very nice it was too.  Then Alex went home and I tried to restore some order by doing the washing up and putting boxes, etc, out of sight.

The dishwasher arrived and now needs to earn its space:  I'd done the lunch washing up because I didn't want a messy kitchen so I haven't used it yet but I do like it.  Inside is organised rather differently to my old one and, I think, probably more sensibly.  It has the cutlery tray that I liked so much in the old one and not too many options.  The other feature that's new to me is that it had a delay timer so I can use it overnight to make better use of the cheaper tariff then.  It may be all bang up to date but it looks jolly simple to use.

After that I went to Morrisons for some bits and pieces.  I thought it might be packed in there but it was quite reasonable really.  They had sprouts at a good price so I got some and now my fingers are crossed that they will stay good.

I got the fruit loaf mixture started with a mix of sultanas, cranberries and candied peel soaking in cold, sweet, strong tea and, because it is Christmas, I also added some mixed spice, cinnamon and ground ginger.  I have to say, it does smell nice.  Later this morning I will add an egg and some SR flour and into the oven it goes.

I've already done a shop - to Sainsbury's to get some stuff, including some Campari because Morrisons doesn't stock it any more and it's my Christmas treat.  I LOVE Campari!
The rest of the day will be spent in crossing things off a list I have made.  Tea loaves, white loaves, slice and freeze, vegetarian sausage rolls, tidy living room, ironing, replace bulbs. ecards  . . .
If I get all that done, I will be a happy bunny!

Have a great day.

Wednesday 20 December 2017


Good morning, all.  They say it's going to be milder today which would be nice as we will be making journeys to the garage and back.  In fact, BBC weather tells me that it is around 7 or 8 decrees C at the moment which is a big rise from all those frosty mornings we have been having.  It's going to be cloudy but no rain.  I'll take that!

Yesterday was an excellent day.  First of all the meeting went well, then I got an important parcel posted off.  I sorted out the cupboard under the sink that was in a shocking state but don't think me overly virtuous - I had to as today a new dishwasher is being delivered and installed.  The old one has been malfunctioning for a while and I have saved up!

Doing that inspired me to take a look at the tins and jars cupboard where you risked being brained by falling cans every time you opened the door and now it has some order as well as a list of what needs to be used up.  I won't starve, that's for sure!

Just before two I zoomed off to school and spent a wonderful half an hour or so singing carols with the children in their Carols by Candlelight.  The hall had been darkened, it was warm and the candles shone brightly: as a result, when it was finished, a lot of children looked very sleepy eyed and lethargic as they went back to their classrooms, bless them.  I have to say, the staff weren't much better in some cases.

So I wasn't surprised when my student turned up very weary and needing to work things out on paper that they would normally have done in their head.  However, they persisted and we got some good work done.  That's it now until January 3rd as far as tuition is concerned.

Today is Putting Up The Christmas Tree day.  Al is helping and we should have a lovely time - I am cooking him a roast dinner as a thank you.  It is also, as mentioned above, new dishwasher day.  I don't know yet when it will be delivered but should be given some indication early this morning.

I'm also hoping to make two white loaves, a couple of fruity tea loaves and some vegetarian sausage rolls, all for the freezer.
The tea loaf recipe is completely fat free and moist enough to be happily eaten without butter while the vegetarian sausage rolls have been a family tradition for decades, ever since Delia first did her Christmas programmes.
It would be nice to get them all done and off the list but tomorrow will do if today doesn't.

So I'd better get started, hadn't I?  There's plenty of other things to do as well, starting with coffee and breakfast.
Have a great day.

Tuesday 19 December 2017


Good morning!  It's frosty and foggy out there this morning so fingers crossed for Beth (and everyone else) as she/you drives to work in the rush hour.  Freezing fog is not very nice.

When I wrote yesterday's entry, I forgot that yesterday evening I was out.  It was Alex's last Presentation Evening at his old school and I mentioned here that we had no idea what his 'prize' was, just that he had one.  Well, now I know, of course.  He was awarded the Carol Buck Prize for Special Effort and Achievement!  Isn't that lovely!  Well deserved as he has worked his socks off in his time at Baddow High.

I seem to have a number of new readers so I will just explain that Alex is my grandson and is quite autistic.  At the age of three, it was thought that he would never become verbal!
He was given a Statement of Special Educational Needs when he was three, was given a place at a very good special school in the area and blossomed there.  He went with a LSA to the local grammar school for maths lessons for a while and then transferred to Baddow, dropped a school year so that he could experience the national curriculum (because he hadn't done the usual subjects at his special school, of course, and needed to choose his GCSE options) and shocked us all with his outstanding GCSE results.  He went on to A levels with a focus on maths and science, got three high grade A levels and is now at UEA doing maths. 

He's a very special individual indeed with a special and individual life-story and his award is well deserved!  It is great that his old school has been so quick to recognise and acknowledge this.

Earlier in the day I enjoyed the coffee and chat at school and then I worked hard to finish something back at home.  Tuition went well and I have just one session before stopping for the break: the other one has dropped out, understandably, and that's perfectly OK.

I woke up this morning to find that the cold that has been threatening all through the weekend has thoroughly landed.  Sore throat, muggy head and aches.  Nothing that a dose of paracetamol won't soothe and there's honey and lemon (providentially low fat) for later if needed.

I have a meeting this morning and this afternoon I am off to the Carols By Candlelight that is now a school tradition on the last afternoon before Christmas.  I have a particular fondness for this one because I started it, many, many moons ago, and I always go if I can.  Then it is one more tuition session before a quiet evening at home (this time I am sure).

So I had better go and dose up, make some restorative coffee and generally get things started off.  Have a very good day and stay warm!

Monday 18 December 2017


Good morning, everyone,  After a pleasant weekend with my parents, I will shortly be making tracks as I have a reasonably active day today.

It was a very quiet day yesterday which was nice.  In the evening I made a roast dinner for us and had both roasted potatoes and parsnips, just to see.  I now make the roasted stuff the Slimming World way, using spray oil, and it does seem to work quite well, making tasty roasties, etc, that don't unsettle my insides.  There were no repercussions - phew!

This morning, it is Coffee and Gateaux at school.  This is now a traditional thing where all the school helpers and staff are invited into the hall at playtime for coffee and cakes as a way of saying thank you to all the people who volunteer to help out one way or another.  It's a nice idea and I always pop along for a chat even though today it will have to be Coffee and Look But Don't Eat!

After that I shall glance over my planning before tackling my bedroom which seems to have reverted to dumping ground space again.  It's got to the point where I don't really want to go in, not good for a sleeping space, so a sort out is required!  It's more just stacks of stuff that should go elsewhere rather than real rubbish so ought not to take too long, fingers crossed.

After tuition, I shall settle to a lazy evening in front of the telly, knitting in hand.  A nice day, I think.

Sunday 17 December 2017


Good morning, everyone.  It's so much milder today - the first time in a while that there's no heavy frost - and the forecast is rain, rain and yet more rain. Not very nice for those who have to be outside for whatever reason.

I did my trip to M&S and managed to get most of what was on the list.  The only thing they didn't have was some of their lavender perfume but never mind, that can wait.  I got some nice pot pourri with refresher oil (a little personal tradition of mine) and actually a new jumper for myself.  It's nice to have a treat now and again, even if it was unplanned!

Once I got home, I set to and all the chores are now done and dusted so I think I will be lazy today and just do the bare necessities.  There's bound to be something view-able on telly and I have a stack of magazines to work through.

That's the good life, isn't it?

Saturday 16 December 2017


Good morning, everyone.  Hoping things are well with you all.  It was another very cold day yesterday although I gather it will start warming up a little bit tomorrow.  Hope so - I'm tired of cold toes.  :-)

First of all, for one of my readers, Everydaythings' (what a lovely name), here's the link to the blog where I note down what I am eating each day.  It's called The Frugal Factor, although it's gone through several reincarnations over the year.  Click on the name to go there.

I felt quite energetic yesterday and managed to get quite a lot of house work type stuff done.  I've never been quite so prepared for The Big Day as I am this year - or am I chancing fate to say this and something dire will now happen?  I even managed to round up a whole load of random jam jars on a tray, ready to take them out to clutter up the shed instead of cluttering up my kitchen!

Today I am planning a trip to M&S.  There's a number of things I 'need' (want) to get that only they sell, such as their lavender perfume, jars of chicken and meat gravy (and turkey gravy if they have it) and other bits and bobs.
I have warned the bank manager!!

Apart from that, it is the usual changing the sheets and the resulting washing, drying and ironing.  I can't get out of the habit of doing this on a Saturday after years of working, even though in the thing I call my brain, Monday is the right day because that's when Mum always changed the sheets when I was a little girl.  Funny how these things stick, isn't it?

It's time for coffee now so I will pop off and get a few things done while the kettle boils.  Have a lovely warm day!

Friday 15 December 2017


Good morning to you all.  Another Friday starts: they do seem to come round in every decreasing circles at the moment, don't they?  It's another chilly morning but it's been raining and there's no frost.  Yesterday was beautifully sunny which made inside feel a lot warmer as the sun shone through the two big windows (must find time to clean those two windows!)

Yesterday morning I felt energetic, so I moved all the furniture around to my usual Christmas arrangement and now there's a gap where the tree will go.  Things were taken upstairs, put away, generally re-organised and, while there's still stuff to do, I'm not far off being 'there' as far as Christmas is concerned.  This year I have no-one staying over and that's made a big difference.

I pootled off for the hospital appointment and can understand why people choose to go private.  The local private hospital has an NHS 'unit' and it's nearest to me as well.  Very convenient.
Everything was very calm, non-clinical, 'soft' (if that makes sense) and it all felt unrushed.  Despite that, I was seen bang on time and after the appointment, I was sent down to the ultrasound dept where the polite receptionist booked me in for a scan in the second week in January, apologising for the delay as she did so.
All very civilised!

The doctor is sure it is gallstones and the scan is to confirm this (or not).  His very gentle poking and prodding started off a few twinges (nothing too bad) so - well, we will see.  I will be told the options at the follow up appointment after the scan.
So that's that for now!

On the plus side, with the very low fat diet, the weight is dropping off at a fair old rate of knots so I really can't complain.

Once home, it was tuition - for those two it was the last of the year as next Thursday the school holidays will have started.  I have three more sessions next week and then no more until January.

Then I got out the ironing board and the stack of ironing and ploughed my way through until it was all done.  Got to love an empty basket!

Today is a usual Friday - there's very little in the diary so I can focus on home.  The biggie is that Alex will be home either this evening or tomorrow.  He has survived his first term on university with some blips at the beginning and, I think, has enjoyed the experience.  He had planned to come home once a fortnight but  this reduced to just once in the whole term so it must have gone OK really.
It will be lovely to see him again.

It's time to stop rambling on and to get into that kitchen and get it sorted.  The cleaners come today and I want to make it as easy as possible for them to actually clean rather than move my junk around.

Have a lovely day!

Thursday 14 December 2017


Good morning, everyone.  It's Thursday - where has the week gone? - and an important day as today I have my follow up appointment after my medical issues at the beginning of November.  Thankfully, although it feels very cold out, all the snow seems to have vanished and the forecast is quite good.  We might even see some sun - that would be cheering.

Yesterday morning I popped off to Sainsbury's as there's a few things I like to get there.  I don't know what it is about Christmas shopping but I could feel that 'force' beginning to work - get this, get that, you might need it, you don't want to go short, people might want some . . . do you know what I mean?  Given that this year my whole responsibility is one meal, I was able to combat it quite successfully but even so, how ridiculous!

I was going into town this morning but I don't think I will, I'll defer it until next week; there's so much to do here.  I always go early so there's plenty of parking and by the time the crowds build up, I've finished.

I need to get everything done this morning because the afternoon is busy what with tuition and the appointment.  Wish me luck for that;  I'm quite nervous as to what 'they' will do/say.
In the meanwhile, it is just as well I woke early because I can get going with my work and get loads done.
Where's the coffee?

Wednesday 13 December 2017


Good morning, everyone.   Brrrrrr - yesterday was so, so cold.  It hardly went above freezing all day and the pavements were not nice.  Fortunately, overnight things seem to have warmed up, it's been raining and  it's no longer icy.  Today looks like being wet but safe.

It was a splendid day yesterday.
Feeling in the Christmas mood, I went to the garage and brought in the boxes of Christmas stuff.  The candles, etc, are now all out but need rearranging a few times before I am happy.  I won't be doing the tree until next week - I need to put things away and move the furniture around a bit before I can do that.
I'm glad I got it done as it was cold but very dry and my boots don't slip.

Lunch was great.  Longer term readers might remember that a little group of us meet now and again for a good chat over a meal.  We used to go to the Hare but recently we've eaten at one of our homes and that's what yesterday was.  My word, it was a meal and a half!  A chicken casserole with veg, roasties, jacket pots and dumplings followed by a huge variety of desserts.  My low fat needs had been catered for and I came home very satisfied and full for the rest of the day.  Many thanks to the lovely Julia for all her hard work and hospitality.

When I came home it was tuition and then an evening getting warm again!

Today is less busy in terms of diary stuff but there's still plenty to do and I'm feeling energetic so that's great.
So I will start with a coffee and sorting out the kitchen.
Have a great day.

Tuesday 12 December 2017


Good morning, everyone.
Yesterday was such a nasty day, weather wise.  It rained, then it sleeted, then it rained, then it snowed quite heavily but was too wet to settle although it did try for a while, then it sleeted again.  Non-stop for most of the day and it feels so much colder when it is damp, doesn't it?

Never mind - because it was so unpleasant outside, I set to with my resources and computer and planned all the tuition sessions for the whole week.  It's all done and dusted now apart from refreshing my mind before they arrive.  I'm well pleased with that.

I was feeling very energetic so I meandered into the kitchen and made a couple of loaves of bread and then a batch of Thermo fudge - and I was very good and only ate three bits in the whole day. I will be wrapping it all up this morning so it will be out of temptation's way

In the afternoon I went to the Juniors' carol service and that was really beautiful.  Well known carols, readings, each year group did a carol; or Christmas song and the Belle Plates club also performed. 
I got a bit choked up during Away in a Manger.
Must write a 'well done from the governors' for this week's newsletter.

Unfortunately, I discovered that my boots are no longer water tight.  That's a pain because they are wonderfully non-slip and are cosy and comfortable (until they leak).  It probably won't matter because I reckon we've had our snow now for the next five or six years but even so . . .

Today I'm out for lunch which is very nice.  I have my gifts ready and my cards written.

Have a good day and stay warm.

Monday 11 December 2017


Good morning, everyone.  Well, what a weather day yesterday turned out to be.  It started cold, then rained, then it turned to snow and it snowed harder than I can remember in a long time.

There was a lot more after I took this photo.

Of course, it played havoc with our plans.  I tried to get the car out of the cul de sac but because it is uphill, no chance.  Equally, my daughter liven on a narrow road, lots of on-street parking and on a hill so there was no chance she would try to get here either.  So no guests and quite a lot of food to deal with.  Thank goodness for freezers.

Something really nice - my son came round to check I was OK and did I need anything from Morrisons.  How kind is that?  As it happens, I had walked to Morrisons earlier because I was out of just a few essentials that I tend to buy in bulk and use up over months and it was delightful.  How often do we get the chance to walk through heavy snow round here?  My old boots are still good: warm and watertight.
So he came in, ate a plate of roast lamb and ploughed off through the snow again after a good chat.

For the rest of the day I stayed warm and got on with bits and bobs while watching telly stuff.

Today is the Junior carol service and they've changed the venue from the local church about fifteen minutes walk away to the school hall.  I'm glad as I can walk there easily and the roads may still be treacherous.  Apart from that, it's another day in and I'm hoping to get to the garage to bring in the Christmas boxes - decorations, tree, etc.  It can all go up to the spare room and I can get things out as I want.

I'll start the day with coffee, as usual.  A pot of real coffee today, I think, as a treat.
Take care, everyone, and stay nice and warm.

Sunday 10 December 2017


Morning, everyone.  Very, very early good morning morning.  It's just past three and I can't sleep.  It's been a long time since I had such a wakeful night (apart from when I wasn't well) and I'm not sure what's caused it but never mind, I am sure I will feel sleepy again in a while.  It used to be a very regular occurrence when I was teaching, when there was so much worry on my mind from time to time, but, thankfully, it doesn't happen much now. 

It's extremely cold and there's a very heavy frost out there but no snow yet.  It's sort of predicted but we seem to be close to the edge of the snow belt so might get rain instead.  We will see.  I'm not sure whether I want one or t'other more (or less): snow is beautiful from the inside and the children love it but rain disappears more quickly!

Yesterday my home smelled so fragrant.  First of all it was bread; two small 1lb loaves that are now sliced, wrapped and in the freezer.  Then I discovered two forgotten bananas that really couldn't be eaten raw but which were still white/cream inside, not brown so I dug out my banana loaf recipe and made a couple of banana loaves which are also now sliced and in the freezer.  Gorgeous.

After feeling so good about sorting out the chest freezer, I bit the bullet and braved the cold to look through the front opening freezer which is also in the shed.  Yes, it does need a defrost but not urgently so it can wait, it was all reasonably tidy and organised anyway and now I have a complete list of what's in there too; not a huge amount, thankfully, so there's room for any Christmas stuff if needed.

Today I was planning to go into town with Beth to get this, that and the other but we might defer that until between Christmas and New Year if the weather is bad.  Beth and Jane are supposed to be coming over for a roast dinner but we have to see about that too.  I have defrosted the meat so will have to deal with that anyway, whether or not they come. 

Well, I'm not feeling sleepy enough yet but I can feel it approaching so I will stop now and perhaps go back to bed, turn on the electric blanket (which is a real blessing at the moment) and read myself back to sleep.
Have a good day wherever you are and whatever the weather does.

Saturday 9 December 2017


Good morning, everyone.   Brrrrrr - it is so cold this morning.  I opened a window to look out and it fair took the skin off my nose.  I'm thankful that I have no extra responsibilities today and can stay nice and warm inside.

The freezer is all shiny and frost free inside now, thank goodness, unlike outdoors.  I wasn't in the least worried about the food thawing - the frost that I scraped off the bottom was still lying long after I'd finished and the food was back in!  It's all better organised now (for a while, anyway) and I have a list of what's inside and roughly where it is too.  I did have to throw a few things out but not nearly as much as I had thought I might have to so that was good and I found stuff I forgot I had.  It's shameful how much is in there and I certainly won't need to trouble Morrisons much over the next few months (apart from Christmas).

It was terribly cold out there with a biting wind.  It took ages before I was warm again in spite of hot coffee and hot soup and I dug out the old fan heater to help the process.  I dared the cold later to check because the last time I defrosted a freezer at this time of year, it failed to start again and I had a mad panic.  That's when I discovered Appliances Online!  Next day delivery! 
This time, no problem!

It feels good to have got it done as it was long overdue.

Before that, in the morning, I had a friend round for coffee, biscuits and a good chat.  I haven't seen her for a while so we had plenty to catch up on and the time just flew.  We're hoping to do the same in January again.

As I said above, today is an inside day apart from braving the cold to get to the freezer for supplies.  Bed changing, washing, drying, ironing and sorting the mini-mess in the kitchen and then I can snuggle down with my knitting and my Kindle.  I treated myself to all the Miss Read 'Thrush Green' books I didn't already have on Kindle and am having a lovely time working my way through them.
Next month I might do the same with the remaining Fairacre books too.

I've just thought of one more thing - I think I will get out my Christmas candles and put them out on display.  It would be nice to have some brightness for the last week of tuition sessions before the end of term, wouldn't it?

I'll stop now and get this sent but today I won't be rushing to get going.  I'll start some bread off and then chill over the PC for a while before getting washed and dressed.  Very nice too.

Stay warm, everyone.

Friday 8 December 2017


Good morning, everyone.  Welcome to Friday.  The temperature has dropped considerably overnight and is due to drop more through the day but sun is forecast so that will be nice after some dull days.

I didn't get the freezer defrosted yesterday as the weather was not great.  As the freezer is in the shed and the food has to be stacked outside, I wasn't going to get it all soaked, that would have been silly.

I took the blood pressure equipment back, as instructed, and the nurse connected it all up and, as suspected, it was a bit too high.  Nothing like as bad as it was when I went into hospital, but a little more than it should be.
I now have to see a doctor again to review my meds and that will not happen until after Christmas.  That's OK, there's quite a lot going on before Christmas anyway and I could do without any further complications  They offered me a telephone consultation but no, thanks, not with my hearing!.

Once I was home, I set to making some more shortbread biscuits as I have a friend coming for coffee and a chat this morning.  I used 'Christmas' cutters and added some cinnamon and some allspice so they look a bit murky but taste fab.  I meant to add some lemon and orange zest but I forgot.

It is such an easy recipe, I think I will make some for Christmas too and remember the zest!

In the afternoon I sat down to knit and fell asleep, something I haven't really done for ages now and the first time I have snoozed in my new chair.  I hadn't slept very well on Wednesday night so it was inevitable, I suppose.  Last night's sleep was much, much better, thankfully.

So, today, as already mentioned, a friend is here for coffee and a good old chat.  Then I will defrost that freezer (maybe) before coming back in to hot coffee and soup to defrost me!

I'd better get going.  The cleaners are also expected today and there's a bit of mess to clear up.  Nothing too bad, thankfully, but I like to give them a clear run.  But first, coffee!

Thursday 7 December 2017


Good morning, everyone.  It's got colder, just as they said it would, so I shall be sorting out the freezer this morning unless the weather makes it impossible (the freezer is in the shed).

There was quite a lot on yesterday.

First of all I went to the surgery to get the monitor strapped on and then had to go about all day bleeping at people every half an hour or so and stopping what I was doing to relax.  It was OK, I suppose, but I was glad when ten o'clock came round and I could take it off.  I have an early morning appointment today where the nurse will connect it up, get all the readings and then, I guess, the fun will start!  We will see.

I then drove straight back to school where I was in time to watch the first of the Infant Christmas Performances.  It was brilliant and I had a great time.
I stood at the back of the hall so I could slip out if the bleeping because intrusive, but it didn't, so that was OK.

After that I went home and set to making some biscuits for the governors' meeting in the evening.  I used my snowflake cutters and anyone remembering last year will know that maybe it wasn't sensible to use them while blood pressure was being monitored as they are the most frustrating things.  I got there, eventually!

After planning, I did my two hours of tuition before setting straight off to the meeting which went as well as these meeting usually go.  Reports were heard, decisions made and the biscuits went down a treat.

Today, after the surgery visit, I want to set to and tackle the freezer, sorting it all out, auditing what is in there, defrosting it and reorganising it (if possible).  Wish me luck.

Then I will make some soup to thaw me out before planning and the last tuition sessions of the week.

A busy day!

Wednesday 6 December 2017


Good morning.  It's not bitter out there at the moment, although it's certainly cold enough for dressing gown and slippers (inside, of course) and the heating might go up a bit later on.

Yesterday went well.  After I had done my bit of shopping (which included a few bits for Christmas), I decided tom pop over the road to school.  Because of health and other fairly significant worries this term, I haven't been into school during the day since the beginning of September which is a first for me over many decades.

I saw some friends, fixed when I will resume going in to help next term, collected a few recycled jamjars and had some longer chats with a few people so got home later than expected.  Fortunately, I hadn't bought any freezer stuff!!

In the afternoon I planned and then tutored.

Today is a bit more busy.  As well as the tuition, I have my 12 hour blood pressure monitor so will be going round with attachments all day!  Once that's fitted, I will be popping back into school for the first performance of the Infant Christmas Show which I am very much looking forward to.  Then it's home for the usual planning and chores before tuition.  Straight after that is governors' meeting so that puts paid to my usual telly this evening.

Nice to have a busy day though, very nice.  I'm looking forward to it!

Tuesday 5 December 2017


Good morning!  It hasn't half warmed up since yesterday morning - there's no nip in the air and no need to adjust the heating.  I'm celebrating with a pot of 'real' coffee instead of my usual instant which is making downstairs smell absolutely wonderful.

Yesterday evening was packed with telly again.  Monday's are great!  I missed the new Hairy Bikers programme but caught up later on iPlayer.  The Paul Hollywood programme was interesting, and Would I Lie To You was extremely funny.  I then watched the HBs and started watching Nigella before Insert Name Here was on after which I went off to bed.  The evening was a mixture of laughter and food which was most satisfying.

Earlier in the evening Beth dropped in on her way home from work and we had dinner together.  Quiche, chips (Slimming World style and very nice they were too) and a side salad filled the corners very nicely.  I haven't seen her for ages so it was lovely to catch up on all the news, hers and mine.

Today I have some food shopping to do and then I need to finish a bit of planning before getting stuck into housework - washing, mostly, and tidying the kitchen.  It only takes a short time for my kitchen to become very messy indeed so I need to keep on top of it.

Judging by the aroma, the coffee is ready so I will say goodbye and pour myself a cuppa.  Have a great day, everyone!

Monday 4 December 2017


Good morning.  Still living the quiet life and there's very little to mention really. 
However, I am looking forward to 'The Hairy Bikers Home for Christmas' which is on this afternoon and which I will watch later on iPlayer.

Have a lovely day and maybe I will have more to chat about tomorrow.  :-)

Sunday 3 December 2017


Morning, everyone.  It's slowly warming up round here for a few days now, although I gather it won't last for long.  I like the cold when it is accompanied by sun and frost, less so when it is dull and damp and yesterday was dull and damp.

Also it was cold enough to get the freezer defrosted without needing to cover what came out.  It didn't take long and everything was back in and down to -18 again very quickly.  I really must do mine again soon - maybe towards the end of the week when it is due to get chilly again.  I can make some more lists of what I have at the same time because, frankly, right now, I don't have much of a clue, it's all jumbled and disorganised in there.  I'm wondering about looking out for some wire freezer trays as well, to help with the organisation.

Apart from that it was an indoors and stay warm sort of day.  I cooked, I washed stuff, I emptied the ironing basket again.  One of those exciting days (not!).

Now it is time for coffee and I must wash my hair.  I put it off yesterday and I wish I hadn't.
Better get going then.  Have a good day, everyone!

Saturday 2 December 2017


Good morning, everyone.  Wasn't it cold yesterday?  The wind cut like a knife and in-between sunny periods it was cloudy and occasionally threatened to drop something from the heavens but it didn't ever quite get round to it.

It was a very ordinary day so there's nothing much to write about and I think today will be more or less the same.  I think the high point of the day will be helping a friend to defrost their freezer.
I'm OK with that; just pottering is fine by me.

Welcome to Margaret and thanks for the lovely comment.

Have a good day, everyone, and continue to stay warm.

Friday 1 December 2017


Good morning, everyone.  What a cold start to the new month (a pinch and a punch for tradition's sake!).  We've had snow/sleet but it hasn't lasted and there's a wind out that that cuts like a knife.  Not nice at all.

Yesterday, once I was dressed, I pootled down to Springfield Hospital to drop off that registration form before driving on to the Peugeot garage.

 A few days ago I booked my car in for a service using the online form.  I wanted a pick up and drop back but there wasn't anywhere on the form to request that so I fired off an email, again using their site, to request this and asking them to reply by email, not phone.  So what did they do?  They phoned and left a message asking me to phone back.  Grrrr.  So I popped round to them to sort it out and now the info about not phoning is on their records.  I wonder if that will make any difference.  Time will tell.

Then, when I got out, I'd been blocked in.  Ho hum.  It wasn't for long though and, to be fair, they are short on parking space, being a very popular and busy garage.

After that it was home, James, to have a late breakfast and to get going with the planning before tidying up and getting things ready for my visitors after tuition, not to mention the cleaners tomorrow.  Killing two birds with one stone really and today it's all ready and tidy, amazingly.

Then, after tuition, my friend, Jackie, turned up and off we went to the Cramphorn to watch a filmed showing of Oscar Wilde's 'A Woman of No Importance'.  I read up about it beforehand of course, as you do, and, apparently, it is not considered his best work by a long shot.  We both enjoyed it very much though and time flew past.  When it had finished, we were surprised at how late it was.  I think that's evidence of an enjoyable experience, whatever the critics say!

Today I am not going out unless I absolutely have to.  It's far too cold, damp and miserable so it's ho for the great indoors for me.  I have ironing and there's some good programmes on the Good Food channel that I can watch as I catch up with the ironing so I will be happy enough.

Hoping you have a good day too, whatever the weather and whatever your commitments are.  Please, stay warm.