Sunday 11 December 2016

Taking a break

Life is very hectic at the moment.  My paying job is sucking up all my time and energy, leaving me little time and energy for anything else.  All around me people are preparing for Christmas and I haven't done anything apart from putting up my tree.  Even that hasn't kick started any festive feelings.  I'm feeling very bah humbuggy!

So I've decided to focus on the last 8 teaching days of school (we finish on the 21st) and then think about everything else.  I'll be taking a break from blogging until the new year (it's just one more thing on my to do list atm) and decide how best to continue.  I love writing and don't want to stop.  I write other stuff and maybe need to find a way of combining it all.  Maybe a blog revamp is needed? This week, 2 of my blogging friends have decided to stop and while I understand and respect their reasons I think blogland is the poorer for their absence.  Thank you Sue and Sarah for all your inspiration xxx

I will be back 😊 Until then I wish you all a peaceful holiday however you celebrate it 🎅🎉💖

Friday 25 November 2016

A good week

I don't mean a good week in being frugal and scoring yellow stickered items, although you can see I did well last night 😀

I mean I had a good week at work!  For the first time since I started this job it felt like everything was starting to come together and other people are noticing.

A visiting specialist colleague who supports a wee girl in my class with major communication difficulties, spent some time in my classroom to observe her with her peers.  I didn't have advance notice so I didn't prepare anything special! It was a Literacy lesson with various activities going on, some children working on their own, some in groups and some working with me.  At the end she commented that there was a lovely atmosphere in the room with all children busy and engaged in their learning.

I had another parents' evening where all the parents reported back to me that their children were happy and enjoying what we did each day.

I only taught for 3 days with the remaining 2 days being Staff Development.  Yesterday we had a visiting speaker to talk about Reflective Reading.  She was very inspiring and gave us lots of practical stuff about teaching reading in 'new' ways.  I was already doing some of the ideas she was suggesting so it was great to know I'm doing the 'right' thing in current thinking about reading.  Especially as it's now a whole school change in the way we approach it.  At my job interview I was asked about how I taught reading so the headteacher obviously knows what I do already.

Today at our morning meeting about our behaviour policy I made a suggestion that is going to be implemented starting on Monday!

And this afternoon we went to a course on Mentoring and at the end 2 of my younger colleagues said they wanted me to be their mentor  💜

All these have added up to a good week professionally.  I really really needed one!

Now I need to start planning and thinking about Christmas!! 🎄🎅🎁

Sunday 20 November 2016

Still here

I'm still plodding away here, full of the latest round of winter bugs generously shared by my grotty kids!! On Friday I had one with projectile vomiting! I do hope I don't get that one! Now that the weather has turned colder my wee chickens are enjoying a daily morning serving of porridge.  They're so funny and end up with it all over their beaks and head!

Work is very demanding and time consuming.  I've had lots of meetings with colleagues for planning/tracking and had several parents' meetings.  And I have another one next week.  There's not much time left for anything else.  But on a lighter note, OH and I have worked out when we can retire. Only 5 and 1/2 years to go for us both 💑

My lovely new laptop has decided to store my uploaded photos somewhere I can't find them again!  I've been doing loads of meal prep which really saves me so much time every night I come home.  If I find the photos I'll post them!!

I found this photo on my wanderings.  Totally sums up my 3 boys!

Saturday 5 November 2016

Cheap proteins

I'm definitely shopping less ie physically going to shops but that means less opportunistic bargains.  Ah well, swings and roundabouts.  A quick pop in the other night with OH (he really needs to curb his food shopping!) resulted in some reduced chestnuts.  3 x 400g bags @ 40p each.  I had no idea how I was going to use them but chestnuts are low fat/high protein so it's a healthy bargain to boot.  I've not done anything with them yet but there's loads of ideas on Pinterest and they're not about to perish any time soon.

I've discovered that one of my colleagues regularly brings in staff sale foods from Marks and Spencer as her partner works there.  No idea what staff pay for these reduced items but she was offering it to her colleagues for free as she had too much for her own use.  Free is my favourite price! :-)  I couldn't eat some of the lovely pasta meals and bready things but I spotted these lentils and wild rice pouches.  Both dairy and gluten free.  Happy, happy!!

I had them with some of the turkey sausages I'd frozen from last week's meal prepping instead of the pasta I'd planned.  Very tasty indeed.  I must buy some green lentils next time I'm stocking up on pulses.  I like rice and beans type combinations.  Healthy and cheap!

Sunday 30 October 2016

All work and no play...

... makes me a very dull, tired, grumpy and fed up girl!!  Although Emma doesn't seem to mind! All I seem to do atm is go to work, think about work and then do even more work at home.  There is no life/work balance.  I'm not enjoying teaching this class, they're very needy in lots of different ways.  I now have 30 (that's the legal max for this age group) and 12 of them are on Staged Intervention.  Plus at least 6 more with behaviour issues and one who barely speaks English (although she is a wee sweetheart). I have to admit that I am stressed.  So it's important that I try harder to do more fun things completely unrelated to school especially at weekends.

I scored some yellow stickered turkey sausages yesterday.  I've had them before (also reduced) so knew they're delicious.  I simmered them in some pear cider (bargain from Lidl) and prepped them for a couple of meals next week.

 I took one to my eldest son for his dinner tonight. 

I also made a chocolate cake

I finally got round to start painting my utility room cupboard doors.  My dishwasher door took 3 coats of emulsion then 3 coats of cupboard paint.  So I'm hoping to get them finished this week at some point,

I've also made a huge batch of lentil soup so that's lunches for work sorted for the week.  We get an hour for lunch and I usually work through it, having my soup at my desk while I mark jotters.  I know that's not healthy but when you've got 30 jotters from every curricular area covered that morning there's not much choice.  It's either done at lunchtime or at home *sighs*

Sunday 16 October 2016

RIP Merida

Ginger (L) and Merida (R)

When I went out to open the coop this morning I found my favourite chicken Merida dead.  Totally unexpected as she was just over a year old.  Yesterday she was free ranging round the garden despite the pouring rain.  When I closed up last night all 3 were snuggled up together.  This morning she was curled up by the door.

I'm hoping it was just one of these things and the other 2 are ok.

RIP my brave wee Merida :-(

Saturday 15 October 2016

End of the holiday

That was a quick week!  Although I did pack a lot in with a trip to Brighton at the start and then a couple of days in St Andrews in the campervan.  So this morning it was back to my normal weekend routine of shopping/cooking/housework.  After a trip to Sainsbury's it was a morning of roasting chicken and pumpkin, making chutney and putting a beef casserole in the slow cooker.  Sainsbury's had a lot of their frozen meat reduced, probably to make way for Christmas stuff.  So I got 2 x 500g bags of diced British beef for me and a pulled beef meal for my eldest son.  All at half price.  Worth checking out your supermaket freezers for good deals just now!

It looks tasty but contains gluten!

In the spirit of making good use of everything I had a go at roasting the pumpkin seeds from my pumpkin.  I followed this recipe where you boil the seeds first in salted water before roasting.

They're absolutely delicious!  Worth the fiddliness and they're free :-)

Tomorrow I need to do some prep for going back to school *sighs* and more housework chores.  It just makes life easier when I get in from work each night.

Thursday 13 October 2016

A use it up day

I went to visit my parents yesterday.  My lovely mum had bought some low alcohol beer by mistake and offered it to me.  Sadly beer is one of the things I can't have as it has gluten but I knew I could use it up in something for my eldest son. He had given me some leftover cracked pepper beef sausages so I made him a sausage in beer casserole using up some of my onions and OH's potatoes.

  It smelled delicious so I hope it tastes delicious!

My lovely mum also gave me the remains of a bag of parsnips so I chopped them up with the sad carrots from the bottom of my fridge and some onions.  I sprinkled some ground cumin over the lot and roasted them for 45 mins.  I had half a wee carton of Alpro cream in the fridge so blitzed it all together with some veg stock and turned it all into Roast Root Soup.  That's 3 lunches for school next week sorted.

I pulled the last of the beetroot from the raised beds and baked them in the oven.  They're now sliced and marinating in spiced vinegar as per this Pickled beetroot recipe.  Yum!

Tomorrow will be another use it up day as I've got apples, plums and rhubarb from my lovely mum's garden that will need to be used.

Wednesday 12 October 2016

Cutting my monthly costs

I mentioned recently I'd bought a new car.  I wasn't planning on changing my car (Honda Civic).  I got it brand new nearly 3 years ago not long after I started working again.  I had a deal that involved me paying a deposit then making a monthly payment for 3 years. I then had to pay the balance off and the car would be mine outright.  And that's what I was planning to do in February.  I'd been saving up so the money was already there.  My almost 3 yo car had a very low mileage (11,000 miles) and was in good nick.  I was happy with that deal.

But then I got a phone call from my dealer to say they had a special offer (yeah right!!) and had 10 brand new cars just like mine but the Sport version.  I wasn't really interested until they said they could buy out my contract and just swap my old car for the new one.  Still not tempted.  Oh and it would be cheaper monthly payments.  Now I was interested.  How much cheaper?  Just under £40 a month!  Enough for me to seriously consider it.

Turns out the Civic is getting an upgrade in 2017 and they wanted to get rid of their backlog of the current model.  I read all the small print.  It really was a good deal.  So I agreed.  I collected it today.  It looks like the one above except it has black alloys (whatever that means)  It has lots of fancy gadgets like reversing cameras, cruise control and a special braking 'thing' that stops you hitting another car.  All I care about is it's nice to drive and I have piece of mind that my car will get me safely where I want to go. And I've cut some of my monthly costs.

When The Teenager went off to university it was agreed that his dad would fund him (part of the divorce settlement) and so he would meet his own costs.  So from the end of this month I am no longer paying for his phone contract (£33), his contact lenses (£16) and his TKD membership (£46). I'm also going to cancel my Tesco pet insurance as it's gone up from £15 a month to £39.26!!! Not sure if I'll take out another policy yet.  I'm also planning on changing my bank account from a fee paying one (£13.50 a month) to a free one that rewards me for using it.

With all these changes I make that savings of just under £190 a month.  Or a whopping £2280 a year! YIPPEE!!!! And when my own phone contract is renewed in December I'm hoping to save a few more pounds.

That's a few more pounds added to the pension pot :-) :-)

Tuesday 11 October 2016


I've just spent a few lovely nights in Brighton visiting my middle son and spending some 'us' time with OH.  I've mentioned before that my son works for Hilton so we get their Friends and Family rate.  This means we get to stay in a very nice room for a fraction of the cost.  And if the hotel is quiet we sometimes get a suite!  The hotel was quiet this weekend ;-)

We did a few touristy things but mostly just enjoyed walking along the promenade in the sunshine and browsing the vintage shops in The Lanes.

Our room had a balcony overlooking the sea.  Looking right was the recently opened i360 (we went up it even though I'm scared of heights!) and looking left you can see Brighton Pier in the distance.  The original pier (top photo) fell into disrepair and eventually burnt down.  I think the remains look rather beautiful and dramatic.  I took loads of photos trying to capture the right image of it.  I rather like that one!

We did splash out on a few very nice meals. But on the whole it didn't cost too much for the break with the cheap hotel rate and budget airline tickets.  Getting away from everything was just the tonic I needed!

Friday 7 October 2016

Soooooo tired!

It's Friday and I'm now on holiday for a week.  I'm unbelievably tired.  I'm currently at the weepy tired stage and just want to sleep.

OH has booked a short break for us both (it was a surprise) and I'm really looking forward to it.   It's the first time in ages we've got some time for us as a couple with no teenagers in sight.  OH and I do not live together (yet) despite being together for 5 years.  It was too complicated with exes and our respective kids. So couple time is rare and precious.

I'll update you all when I get back.  Hope everyone is well and enjoying life xxx

Sunday 25 September 2016

Shiny and new

A few shiny new things have been appearing here lately.  My laptop died hence the blog silence for 2 weeks :-(  I'd had it for 5 years and to be honest I've been nursing it along for the last year.  I'd been backing up my files and photos so when it literally fell apart it wasn't a shock.  I shopped around and eventually chose a new one similar to my old one with £100 off as the added bonus!  I'm still getting used to it.  I've discovered I'm not good with new technology, I just don't have the patience.  Definitely a sign of getting old!

Another new thing is The Teenager's black belt in TKD.  I think the smile says it all :-)

Work is hectic, in all honesty I'm not enjoying it at all.  I'm hoping that will change.  I'm working long hours in school and still doing a few more at home every night.  Housework/gardening and decorating have all been abandoned.  Although I did manage to defrost and thoroughly clean out my black fridge freezer.

I picked all the ripe tomatoes from the polytunnel.

And all the green ones!

I've been using up as much as I can from both freezers before stocking them back up again.  I stewed some gooseberries with a couple of sad apples from the fruit bowl and turned them into crumble. Yum!

Life is trundling along nicely.

Oh, there will be one more shiny new thing arriving in the next few weeks. Yesterday I bought a new car!  But that story deserves a post of it's own!! :-)

Sunday 11 September 2016

A new era

This morning I took The Teenager to Glasgow to move into halls.  Gulp!! My baby has flown the nest and I'm now officially an empty nester.  We were both prepared and ready for it so no tears or drama.  It's the next stage in both our lives and I know I'm looking forward to mine.  I'm always at the end of the phone and it's only a 40 minute drive down the motorway..  I've had a few texts from him this afternoon but all seems to be well so far.  His biggest problem was figuring out how the cooker works!  His flatmates seem ok with a mixture of subjects being studied so plenty of scope for discussion (and drinking!)

When I got home I kept thinking I needed to go the supermarket as I hadn't been for a week.  But I had a look in the cupboards and freezers and realised they were actually pretty full.  Just not full of quick to grab n eat stuff!! I had no non dairy milk left but remembered I'd seen something on Pinterest about making your own oat milk.  So I gave it a go!

This brand is quite nice and costs £1.40 per litre.  I made about 700ml for 10p!!  It's a little watery so next time I'll use less water but hey, for 10p it tastes great.

Oat Milk


Soak 100g of rolled oats in a bowl with 500ml of room temperature water for 15 mins.  Drain and squeeze through a sieve.  Put oats back into the bowl with 200ml of water and leave for another 10 mins.  Drain and squeeze (I used the back of a spoon to really get all the creamy juice out!)

Next time I'll use 400ml of water for the first soak.  It keeps for a week in the fridge apparently.  I'll report back on that.

This week I'm going to try to live out of the cupboards and freezers and use up all the sugary and processed stuff so I can make a start on cutting out refined sugars.  OH's Teenogre will eat up stuff The Teenager has left behind so I can re stock with even more healthy foods.  My diet is pretty healthy but I do succumb to the odd packet of crisps or cereal bar.  If they're simply not there then I can't eat 'em!!  Definitely a new era round here :-)

Saturday 10 September 2016

Ruff week

I honestly don't know how I got through this week! But I know I'm exhausted and I've got a hectic weekend ahead. On top of the mountain of paperwork, I have a very difficult class to manage.  Most of my time is taken up dealing with behaviour issues.  When I come home from work and tell OH some of the stuff the kids get up to he just laughs and says it's like an episode of Bad Education The Early Years version!

This week's highlights include 2 of my boys peeing in the playground and 2 different boys running out of the playground onto the road for a dare.  I was on line duty and had several older boys (not even my class!) refuse to come in after break.  That was a management issue, I just ignored them and left them.

Yesterday we had a fire drill in the morning and then in the afternoon just as I was about to start my Textiles stuff with 20 kids we had an actual fire incident and had to evacuate the building for real.  In the rain.  And while we waited for the 2 fire engines to arrive to deal with it (smoke alarm in the kitchen was triggered) the council workers CONTINUED CUTTING THE GRASS AROUND THE 200+ KIDS STANDING IN THE RAIN!!!!!

You couldn't make this stuff up!  Oh, and Emma's back in season so I have a howling whiny dog when I get home exhausted from work!  At least I don't have to think about dinner when I get in :-)

Friday 2 September 2016

Free lunch

When a member of the management team approaches you in school and opens with the words "Did you know that just outside your classroom we've got some raised beds?" And then follows that with "Some of the children in your class last year planted seeds as part of their Grow, Cook, Eat project." You know that you're going to end up being responsible for the upkeep of the school's raised beds!! :-)

So this morning we went outside to harvest the vegetables they'd planted before the summer holiday.  Sadly the beds hadn't been touched for months and were completely overgrown.  A lot of stuff had gone to seed but we managed to pick peas, runner beans, lettuce, carrots and radishes.  The peas were a bit big and hard but most of the kids tried them and some loved them! We had a fab discussion about seed saving, pollination and eating stuff straight from the garden :-)

No one wanted to try eating the nasturtiums but everyone agreed they looked pretty

Even after the kids (and me!) had munched loads of peas there were loads of pods left so I brought them home. Waste not, want not!  I had a generous full bowl so turned them into a simple Pea and Mint soup (peas, potato, onion simmered in veg stock then blitzed with a handful of fresh mint).  I got 3 mugs of soup so that'll do 3 (free) lunches for work :-)

Every night this week before I've gone to bed I took a 'ready' meal and a mug of soup out of the freezer.  No thought required and saves so much time.

I just need to crack the make ahead breakfasts and snacks.  I found a fab gluten and dairy free pancake recipe (original recipe here)  that I love.

My version:

1 cup unsweetened almond milk
2 large eggs
1 large ripe banana
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 cups oats

Put everything in a blender and mix well.  I used my Nutribullet.  Then make pancakes in the usual way.  They're lovely drizzled with maple syrup.  And they freeze well!  So I'll be making a big batch of these for my work day breakfasts.

Edited to add: let batter mix sit for a wee while to thicken or add less milk

Monday 29 August 2016

More meal prep

Yesterday I spent some time prepping my evening meals for this week as I'm just so tired when I get home from work.  I cooked extra rice and broccoli on Saturday night so I had leftovers.  I defrosted and cooked 4 chicken breasts, roasted some Mediterranean veggies, soaked and cooked some black beans, cooked a large turkey thigh in the slow cooker and made a big pot of mashed potatoes.  I also baked a GF loaf.  Then I divided it all up in different combinations into my containers.

I ended up with 6 balanced meals for me and a portion of chicken and a portion of mashed potatoes for my eldest son.  I kept one out for tonight (mashed potatoes/blackbeans/chicken) and froze the rest.  This week's meals all sorted!

Link to containers here 

Sunday 28 August 2016

First week back at school

I'm exhausted!!  I have 28 challenging wee monsters with a lot of needs.  Luckily I have a support assistant with me most of the day (which is fantastic) but I'm not used to having another adult in the room with me.  So that's presenting a few challenges as well!

I spent the last week of my holiday trying to arrange the room into a lovely learning environment.  It's a tight squeeze but one week in and I think it's going to work. You can't tell from the pics but I have the school garden including the polytunnel just outside my room and I have the only classroom with an outside door.  So there will be lots of opportunities for outdoor learning.

This is my desk area at the end of the day!!

The meal prep I did a few weeks ago has proved to be a big success.  Coming home exhausted from work meant I already had a nutritious meal waiting for me.  So far everything has reheated well.  Last Sunday I made a big batch of turkey meatloaf using 1.5kg of turkey breast mince I got reduced.  I made some little burger patties and meatloaf muffins as well as the usual loaf.  I've still got lots in the freezer.

They reheat very quickly in the microwave!

Back door before shot

On Monday night my joiner phoned to say the doors I had ordered had arrived and could he could come and fit them the next day ie the first day of school for the kids!!  He's a very busy guy as he's so good so of course I said yes even though I wasn't ready for him.

But what a difference they make!   

Side entrance door, seen from the street (before)

And here it is after

I'm not a huge fan of the white uPVC look but they now match the windows.  They're energy efficient and have better security locks.  I'm also thinking ahead about when it comes to sell this house so making it buyer friendly too is important.  I decided to have a very plain look of half glass and I chose brushed chrome handles as I'm replacing the many colours of handles/switches etc with brushed chrome throughout the house.  There's still some plastering to be done as removing all the disabled entrance stuff from the previous owner has left big holes but it already looks heaps better.

While he was here, the joiner also finally put a door on my integrated dishwasher and made me 4 new cupboard doors for my utility room.  They just need to be painted white now.  DIY and decorating is a very slow process but I'm learning to be patient (ish) ;-)

I had a day off yesterday from thinking about/doing school work but I have to spend some time today prepping work for next week.  Every day last week I was in school from 8am to 5pm and also did a few more hours at home too. I know I can't keep this pace up but for the first term in a new place it's kinda essential to hit the ground running and make a good impression.  I think I'm going to be happy in this school :-)