Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Is it half term yet?

This is definitely the worst half term of the year.  

Going to work in the dark and coming home in the dark means that I'm not entirely sure if the sun rises during January.  I know it makes a brief appearance on a Wednesday when I'm forced to stand out in the freezing cold for 40 minutes on dinner duty, which this term seems to involve taking my life in my hands patrolling the area frequented by football and rugby playing teenage boys (I've already been hit on the head by a rugby ball once this term, maybe, if I can be knocked out by one, I'd get a few days off?).

I know that there's a half term holiday coming soon, but just to make it seem even further away, I've two parents' evenings to do before then as well as my usual 60 hour week of teaching, marking and preparing.

At times like these I need to remember my matra:

"Eight weeks summer holiday, eight weeks summer holiday"

Anyway, when half term finally does arrive (8th Feb we break up), I need to find things to occupy daughter for a week that don't involve too much money or energy (I'm knackered).

Testing the waters, I asked her if there was anything she'd like to do this half term.

"Make our own cinema in the lounge, do another bake off challenge, do something crafty, go to Styal Mill, make a scrapbook of horsey pictures from my Pony mags,................."

And the list went on.

Luckily, all free and most involve only a passive approach from me!

Sunday, 27 January 2013

Signature Shortbread Challenge

Why is January so long?


I'd just about had enough of getting up in the dark, going to work in the dark, coming home in the dark, and then, just when I was getting depressed and despondent due to lack of sunlight and the freezing temperatures, along came "The Great Comic Relief Bake Off" to cheer us all up again!

Having watched the first episode daughter challenged me to a signature shortbread challenge.

So, yesterday, we took a basic shortbread recipe and added our own twists:

I made maple and pecan flavour shortbread.
I added maple syrup and chopped pecans to the mixture before cutting into leaf shapes.

Izzy made citrus and ginger shortbread.
She added lemon and orange zest and a little ground ginger before cutting into shooting star shapes.

(Beautifully displayed on my Great British Bake Off cake stand which daughter bought me for Christmas)

Hubby was chief taster and declared the winner .................

............... Izzy!

(Damn, even when I'd pushed my biscuit back at him, saying "You haven't tasted it properly"!  I'm a sore loser.)

If you want to try your own Shortbread Challenge, the basic recipe is:

4 oz/ 100g butter
2oz/50g caster sugar
6 oz/150g plain flour
1 oz/ 25g cornflour

Cream the butter and sugar together.
Sift flour and cornflour into the mixture and mix together until flour worked into butter.
Turn out onto surface and bring together into a dough (don't overwork).
Roll out and cut out shapes.
Bake in oven gas mark 3/150 deg C fan oven for about 15/20 mins until golden.
Cool on wire rack.

Now go and design your own flavours.

And let me know how you get on!

Sunday, 20 January 2013

Beary Early Party Booking

This non-procrastination has now got out of hand.  This weekend I booked daughter's 9th Birthday Party ...............  for 27th April!

Well, she's wanted a "Build a Bear" Party for a while and I thought, "Saves doing party bags", so, to get the first slot on a Saturday morning, I booked it early. £24 per child for a bear and an outfit.

Only now I need to book the food afterwards;  apparently this is usually a trip to Pizza Hut to make pizzas and have unlimited ice cream factory - £7 per child.

And, of course, I'll need to make a super dooper Bear Birthday Cake.

Something like this?

£14 for the cake tin, then the ingredients to make it.

Hmmmmm, not sure about this now.

Beginning to sound expensive.

No, I just have to remember how exhuasted I was doing this last year and how much it all cost.

Yes, Build a Bear and Pizza Hut is a very good idea indeed!

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Procrastination is the Thief of Time

Well, my New Year's Resolution not to procrastinate is going quite well.  I've kept up with the in-tray, I've booked a cottage for summer (returning to Northumberland to do the stuff we didn't do in October), I've kept up with the mending and bill paying and done a few other things I've been putting off for a while:

For one, I've reinstated my membership at Audible.  I stopped it when I had a backlog of audio books to listen to, but I've listened to them and bought a few from i-tunes, so I had been meaning to join Audible again to get them a little cheaper.  Luckily for me, they had an offer on for £3.99 a month for the first three months, so I've joined again and downloaded a new book to my i-touch. Tick!

Next, as my friend so rightly pointed out in the comments on my New Year's Resolution, I needed to book a chocolate making course that we said we'd do together.  So we're off to make giant Green and Black's chocolate buttons and fabulous chocolate truffles in a posh hotel in Manchester. Tick!

I've also found that I have much more time to do other things because the little things haven't grouped together to make an hour's worth of jobs.

That Charles Dickens knew what he was talking about, didn't he?

Sunday, 13 January 2013

I really should live in a sitcom

This weekend my sister in law and I tackled the mammoth task of cleaning my MIL's bungalow from top to bottom ready to put it on the market.  To give you an idea of how hard we worked, my right arm has now seized up and I'm breaking the pain barrier just to write this post.  (It's also my excuse for not doing the ironing!).

While hubby sorted out the contents of the garage, tried to unblock a drain and took mouldy blinds to the tip, we scrubbed the mould off all the window frames, scrubbed six years of dust off every skirting board, washed every lampshade, cleaned two bathrooms, one kitchen, one conservatory, one lounge and three bedrooms.  We opened every window and every door to air the place and that was the problem:

I had opened the patio doors in the lounge and at the end of the day I couldn't shut them.  SIL tried and couldn't do it either.  After 15 minutes she said, "Perhaps it will close from the outside?".  I nipped outside and sure enough, I was able to close it and then she could lock it.

"Let me in through the conservatory" I said, and walked round to the door.

That's when we discovered that if you tilt the conservatory door, as we had done, you can't get it back in place to open it.  No matter how she tried, SIL could not open the door to let me in. 

Meanwhile, yours truly was trapped in the garden in a t-shirt as the temperature was plummeting ready to snow.

"I'll let you back in through the lounge", she said.

"Nooooooo!", I cried, 
"We're not wrestling with that door again.  That one's done. I'll wait."

And there I waited, shivering, until hubby arrived back from the tip and casually opened the conservatory door to let me in.  With a roll of his eyes, of course.

Miranda, take note.

Saturday, 5 January 2013

New Year's Resolution

This year's resolution is to .........


I know I appear to be a tornado whizzing through life doing a million things at once and fitting the proverbial quart into a pint pot, but secretly I do have a bit of a procrastinating habit.

The in-tray in the study can sit for months with statements to be filed and admin to be done.  I put off small tasks such as mending, sorting the recycling and posting letters for days.

It wouldn't be a problem if it didn't bother me, but it does.

Letter and cards sit on the hall cabinet saying "post me, post me" and the post box is only 30 second down the road!. 

I mend clothes with safety pins that then poke into my waist rather than get the sewing box out and sew the buton back on. 

I once had a suit I didn't wear for about 3 months because the hem had come down on the trousers.  Every time I opened my wardrobe they mocked me "you want to wear me, but you can't".

So, I have stopped procrastinating.

I have emptied the in-tray, I have mended my pyjamas and I have posted letters and cards.

And it feels good!

Let's see if I can keep it up when I go back to work............

Thursday, 3 January 2013

Move over, Lord Sugar!

Here's a cautionary tale.........

At the start of the Christmas holidays daughter asked us to teach her how to play Monopoly.  Apparently there is a boy in her class who plays and raves about it.  Of course, we were too busy with Christmas activities to play, until today.

Today we had a free afternoon so we set up in the dining room and began.

I was banker, of course.

"Why are you the banker?" asked daughter.

"Because I look after the household finances.  I'm good with money."  I replied.

I've never seen anyone pick up the game so quickly.  She bought up properties, made deals to get full sets and proceeded to place not only houses, but hotels on almost all her properties.

Within three hours she had bankrupted us both!

"Perhaps I should do the house finances" she said!