Thursday, 31 January 2013

Today is gone....

Today is gone. Today was fun.
Tomorrow is another one.
Everyday from here to there
Funny things are everywhere.

Dr Seuss

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

No Fixed Abode

Back to travelling teaching again. I am enjoying the freedom of supply again; a new school every week, returning to old favourites where the children smile and say hello, the attack and go approach of no paper work, no advanced planning, no records or assessment. Just stand, teach and run.
But I feel my toes itching for more. More freedom, more of the bits I like, more fun and friends. More making a difference one child at a time. I have no tutees this year and I am missing that hour a week to really improve one child's attitude or confidence or ability. Perhaps I really do need to get an advert out and find one. Or think of a way to make my daily grind suit that side of my character.

Saturday, 19 January 2013


At last.... a month too late and with chronic timing, considering all the travelling DH has to do next week...

The kids enjoyed it.

I enjoyed the panoramic views over towards Prescot and around Childwall woods.

We built a snowman, 15 cms tall

But we had to make him look bigger!

Friday, 11 January 2013

What's in my bag....

I've never done one of these posts before, probably because I've never had a bag I love so much nor had such an edited life stuffed within. I used to be Akela at a cub pack and I like to Be Prepared, so basically I have always had a Big Bag and everything inside. Headache? Here's a pill. Need scissors? Here! Pen/pencil/stapler/hole punch? All here!
But last October we went to London and I bought a small Cath Kidston satchel in the Bicester outlet shop and used it all that week.
What a revelation! Small bags are cracking; you don't get given everyone else's 'stuff' to carry and you have to be sure that everything inside your bag earns its place. I used my CK satchel until December, when I had saved enough to get a 'posh' small bag.

This is a Bailey and Quinn from Debenhams, bought heavily reduced in the sale, along with its little matching purse. Matching is cute. Princess gave me an Eiffel Tower charm to put on because (I quote) "The picture looks like Paris with the bicycle and the love birds, because Paris is the city of romance". The bag measures approximately 20 by 26 by 8 cm, way smaller than the large totes I usually go for, but I'm amazed at how much it fits in!

Clockwise from the top left; Clinique lipgloss, nailfile and buffer, three crystals for happiness and health, paracetamol, antihistamines, small Cath Kidston purse used for makeup and medicine, red Malden pocket Filofax, business cards, Eden perfume atomiser,smartphone with red dotty case (!), small purse, set of keys, headphones for phone to double as MP3 and Youtube listening, red dotty mirror, scissors, tweezers and eyebrow brush. Wow! 

And here is everything packed away in the bag, a place for everything.....

Thursday, 10 January 2013

From 'The Long Legged House' by Wendell Berry

The approach of a man's life out of the past is history, and the approach of time out of the future is mystery. Their meeting is the present, and it is consciousness, the only time life is alive. The endless wonder of this meeting is what causes the mind, in its inward liberty of a frozen morning, to turn back and question and remember. The world is full of places. Why is it that I am here?

Filofax update; my 2013 set up so far.

When last we talked Filofax I was in a crimson Malden. I was loving my red, I had my one and only, my OTF.

OK.  I went through an A5 Malden in purple phase. If it had been red, perhaps I would still be there. *sigh* Or if my Chameleon A5 were a Malden perhaps I would justify the size. *sigh*

But life is life, yes? And common sense says that A5 is LOVELY to write on but just TOO DARNED HEAVY AND BULKY to carry around. Sorry for shouting.

I am back in a crimson Malden. But not my personal size. Matt Malden is resting at the moment. I am using (and loving) Matty Malden, his little brother. Yes, my pocket Malden has surfaced again and I am loving using a pocket Malden as my out and about Malden.
But you want set up posts, don't you?

 My flyleaf is awaiting a photo of my three best people, yet to print out from this Christmas. Until then it's a Mary Engelbreit picture cut from an old calendar.

 The first section holds shopping lists; a household shopping list, a 30 day do I really need and want this thing list and a running food list where I jot down what I know we need or will need next week as I'm out  on the go, before I add it to the regular grocery list.
 A vertical year planner. All the inserts are cotton cream. I like the feel and the colour looks better with my black pen. Every month has three lines; S, C and PM for Supply, Children and what we are up to in the evenings.

 The diary is a week to a page in 4 languages. Each section is about 1.5cm and I do have to write small. It keeps me neat! I tend to keep morning at the top, evening at the bottom and pm floats in the middle. The meal plan for the day is written at a right angle on the left of the entry.
 The lined sheet opposite also has the week's meals listed, then the budget for the week with a record of my spending and just enough space to jot down notes, numbers, addresses that I need.
 Fortunately I don't have a busy life.

 I use To Do sheets for a lot of my organising; another set of menu plans (they also go on my phone calendar and a chart in the kitchen), my GTD sheets, Kindle reading to do and done, recommended books, films, websites etc.

 Final section is plain lined paper. I'm building up a section of quotes and prayers slowly, or here is where I capture ideas, info, important numbers or other stuff I may need in a hurry.
 My back flyleaf is a top opening pocket (two together) and I keep personal photos here. This last picture is Santiago de Compostella, because one day I dream of doing the Camino, and opposite him is a copy of Dali's Christ of St John of the Cross. I suppose it's really a portable altar.

And a final magnetic bookmark of the Eiffel Tower, parce que j'aime La Paris! C'est la plus belle cite du monde!
I don't do stickers, I haven't any space for multi coloured pens and I like monochrome. It's calming and classic. My pen is a cheap Parker with black  ink and I don't mind. It doesn't smudge or bleed through and it suits the utilitarian requirements of a Filofax.

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

How to make Chocolate Brownies the Princess way.

Mummy it says grease and line a tin that measures.... well, that one looks big enough but might be smaller.

Get my favourite pink bowl. Mummy, you got this for me from when Woolies was still open and I  was a little toddler and now you tell me stories of how great they used to be for anything house ish.

Put it on top of the scale. Take it off and try again. What does oz mean? Press that button. Mummy aren't the words on the scale funny? Like Oz. Like the Wizard. And what is a tare?

Get the ingredients for the brownie out.

275g butter. Do we have butter, Mum, or will Butterlicious do? I made butter at school once.
375g sugar. It says caster sugar. Oops. I put in 380g. Will that matter?
4 large eggs. When I did some cooking at school I put some shell in but the teacher said it would only make the cake crunchy. I don't want crunchy so I'll pick that big bit out... wait... yes, got it.. no. Oh well, never mind. It's only small.
75g cocoa powder. Will Galaxy drinking chocolate do? No? But I like it more? No, Mummy, don't look at me like that. I'm only 10. I won't learn unless you tell me.
100g self raising flour. What colour is that Mummy? Is it the green one? S-t-r-o... no, it must be the blue one because you've suddenly grabbed that flour off me and given me the blue bag. What makes it self raising Mummy? What does it mean?

Look Mummy, we've done step one. Well, I've done step one. You've not helped much, have you Mummy?
Step two is fun, it says all I have to do is mix with a hand-held electric blender until evenly mixed. I can get the blender, Mummy. Look it's here already. All I have to do is turn it on and put it in the  bowl... Oh look Mummy. The flour flies up if you put the mixer on its side. Look, it's like snow... and it makes your black jumper all white, too, Mummy. Lovely!

Can I lick it yet, Mummy? What, wait until it's all mixed? OK, yes, well the flour is a bit dry. I tried that before.
No, Mummy I'm sure it's all mixed in I don't need to give it a stir with a spoon.... oh look, you were right, there's a pile of flour underneath. You can mix that bit in while I lick the blender blades but you can't do anything else.

Step three says put it in the pan and scrape the sides with a spatula. Is that to lick, Mummy? I like spatulas. You can lick a lot more mix with them. I like the white spatula with the hearts on Mummy. It's nicer. Stuff tastes nicer on it too.
Now you can smooth it Mummy. Don't lick your spatula, that's dirty. Can I write on the top? I want to put a 'S' on it and then lick my finger. Oh and I want to draw a face in it as well.....

Bake for 40 minutes. That's a long time really. I can watch iCarly.

Will you call me when they're ready? I don't want to keep checking on them, just call me when they're ready and I can eat them....

With thanks to Anne, whose kind link sent us to the recipe and apologies to Jo, whose recipe hasn't been made (yet)

Monday, 7 January 2013

Nearly the end...

Today I almost sent my daughter off to school all alone. No, seriously, she would have been the only child there with a staffroom of teachers. I misread the letter and wrote the date wrong on the calendar. Fortunately SHE said it looked very quiet for a school day so I rang and checked. Please don't tell anyone. oops.

In my defence it was 8.30 and I wasn't awake. We crept into the house and she crept upstairs and back into her pyjamas. It's now 10.14 and I am awake.

But at least we know her uniform is ready.
Shoes shone, shirt clean and tie in a place she can find.

Thanks to Anne we have a brownie recipe to try out. That was seriously the Princess posting yesterday. She seems very struck by the idea of lots of blogmates. She thinks the idea she can ask for a recipe and get one THAT NIGHT is awesome!!!! So this afternoon's treat will be chocolate brownies. Lovely.

Sunday, 6 January 2013

The Princess speaks....

I am the Princess. I am 10 but my birthday is 44 days away. I like to play with my Sylvanian Families and especially  liked it when we went to London  where we had to go to the Sylvanian Families shop. Mum will put some pictures on later.
I like to bake and do crafts.
Iwould most like to make squidgy chocolate brownies but mum can't find a recipe that will work.

We're dreaming of a snow day....

My children have always associated Christmas with snow. They were lucky enough to have snow at or around Christmas during their most formative years (about 3 until 7 for the Princess) and although the past few years have been disappointing, they still dream that White goes with Christmas.

 Ultimate dream? Snow tonight so hard that there is a snow day off school tomorrow and Tuesday but not hard enough to keep them in all day. Dream on, children, dream on. But it does mean that red skies are greeted with 'Will it snow?' Hmm.

My living room has grown in size again. I swear there is something almost Carrollian in the way my room shrinks at Christmas time, almost as though the tree and assorted decorations have the same power as that small bottle Alice drank, so that either we grow larger or the room itself shrinks and suddenly we feel hemmed in and trip over each other.

Today it is quite the opposite. The space is positively overwhelming. And not just space. A good clean round and wipe over makes me feel happy at home.

 I put pretty jam jars in a row with nightlights to decorate my mantlepiece, cleared the dining room table of all detritus and I have plans to invest a couple of pounds in some hyacinths or an amaryllis to provide the new life this month always requires.

But before it looks like I have cleared Christmas altogether, I struck a bargain with the daughter. She argued so convincingly that the Three Wise Men didn't come until Epiphany and it wasn't fair to clear the crib before they had a chance to visit that I agreed to follow tradition Christmas tradition and have the crib up until the end of Christmastide proper;

 so these are here til February 2nd!

Saturday, 5 January 2013

The cousin came for a sleepover...

And I have to tiptoe through the Sylvanians. Oops.

Friday, 4 January 2013

The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey

 Jack and Mabel are homesteaders out in Alaska who are failing to make a go of their small farm. It's cold and getting colder, their marriage is cold and getting colder and on so many levels they are losing each other.
The day the first snow falls, the two of them go outside and make a snow girl, with scarf and hat. Jack shapes its face, they stroke and kiss it and go inside.
In the morning the scarf and hat are gone, and so is the snow girl. Footsteps lead away from the spot where she was built but none lead to, and the mystery begins. When later on they see a girl in the woods, hiding, creeping close but staying away from shyness or caution, they don't know what to think.Is it their snow girl brought to life, or a lost child?

The story unfolds, with their relationship with each other and the people around them growing in importance as it goes on. Mabel sees a link between their life and a Russian fairy story of a snow child who comes to an elderly childless couple, with unhappy results. I can't tell you how it ends, but  I was engrossed, eager to find out what is happening, who the girl is, what she is and what may be the result. I love the way the main characters alter and adapt to the landscape, Mabel loses her East coast chic and Jack learns to trust his wife as a capable woman. The friendships in the book are intriguing and the whole style is gentle, mesmeric, sometimes in a reported speech way that distances the reader at the same time as allowing one to see more than a narrative told from one view point could.
The Snow Child is an enchanting novel.
We chose this book for our February Bookclub and there was a general positive response to it. If you like magical realism then the book will suit you. I loved it, and the life it depicts in Alaska. I really enjoyed the overlap between the story and the Russian tale. Quite touchingly beautiful.  Have you read it? What did you think?

My Friday gift to you, a cuppa

A cup of Chai tea. I love it, it's so warming and spicy. And Princess likes it too.
I'm blogging about the happiness in my daily cuppa over on Happy Angel. Please pop over!

Thursday, 3 January 2013

Farewell, Christmas 2012

It's the 6th on Sunday, but we'll be out at church and then out for a walk. Saturday I'll be up and helping my mother to take down her Christmas decorations. Friday I've promised them one last trip out for the holidays so today....
Today is the day to say farewell

to Father Christmas

to the tree with all the decorations, bought and made over the years

to the fireplace with its berry garland and trees that are (ahem) over 40 years old

to the nativity scene that has made me smile everytime I look at it

to the fireplace with a stocking for all

to the Christmas tray in the kitchen.... no, wait. That stays there all year

And so does the simple wooden nativity on my windowsill.

 A year long reminder of the warmest season of the year. The season that makes me smile and want to live by Scrooge's words,  "I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year. I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future. The Spirits of all Three shall strive within me. I will not shut out the lessons that they teach."

Thank Goodness there are only 333 days left until next December 1st.