Baby's age counter

Wednesday, 31 December 2008

Soldiers' bravery

I got in contact with an old school friend yesterday. He's been in the Army for many years and has just returned from Afghanistan again. I have lost count of how many times he's been over there. This time it has really affected him. He's now lost 15 friends out there, right in front of his eyes. He's come home and life cannot be the same.

I can't imagine the things he's seen and done. He told me, the thing that kept him going all that time was thinking about how life would be when he got home and saw his loved ones. Not least his baby son who was born only a few weeks before he was last deployed out there. What did he come home to? A country that's moved towards a recession, everyone down and sad and not the least bit grateful towards him. What did he spend the last 6 months out there fighting for?

In a bid to help him I looked on the internet to see what is out there to help him. Not a lot it would appear, as he's not lost a limb. So what is there for him to look forward to? Another 18 months here before being sent back there AGAIN. There are no words to explain how much respect I've gained for these people in the last 24 hours.

2008 is nearly over

It feels like an age since I posted on here. I was an absolute wreck in the run up to Christmas - too much work, ill health and general fed-upness with the dark. Fortunately that is now behind me.

Although a bit sniffly I had a good xmas. I got lots of time with the people who matter most to me, lots of yum food and great presents. Who could ask for more?

I love the time between Christmas and New Year and this year has been the best yet. Cunningly we made very few plans. This left me with plenty of time to play my new MarioKart DS game, cook and eat a lot and generally be lazy. To counteract all the laziness we went shopping yesterday to Bluewater. What a busy place! I am sure it was more busy than before Christmas. Mad groups of people we wandering aimlessly among the shops with shelves heaving with unsold Christmas merchandise.

I cannot understand these groups of parents with GIANT pushchairs going shopping at this time of year with a couple of kids also wandering about and an elderly relative also in tow. Surely they can see what a nightmare it will be before they even leave the house. No-one looks like they're having a good time. Being pushed and shoved is not a leisure activity as far as I am aware.
Today has been a curry haze. Tomorrow we're having family over for a big curry feast. So far I've made dhal, fish curry, mushroom bhaji, tamarind chutney, coconut sambal and pea & potato samosas. Phew!

Sunday, 23 November 2008

Cakes and fish pie

Sunday already. The week has gone in a flash and what have I got to show for it? A lot of greeting cards.

That's about it. So I thought I should do something productive and my fiance joined me. He made this amazing fish pie with 4 kinds of fish/seafood in it. He doesn't usually cook often but this weekend he has excelled himself. I love this fishpie. Now I can never make a fishpie again because it would never turn out as lovely as the ones he makes.

To match his good work I have made lots of fairy cakes. They were going to be butterfly cakes but then I found my sugar strands in the cupboard and butterflies were forgotten! I also used up my lovely jelly diamonds. They look slightly sinister on these cakes but, having taste tested them (just to check that they are ok, of course!) I can assure you they are a tasty treat rather than something to pick off the top and hide under a napkin politely when I am not looking.

Sunday, 16 November 2008

Rugby at Twickenham

Yesterday I went to my first major rubgy match. Here I am posing in my new England top!
The game was much more interesting live than it is on tv. Now I actually get what they are trying to do!
The whole experience was really very different to going to see the England football games. I went to one of those matches at Old Trafford a few years ago. I enjoyed that too, but there's a whole different crowd at a rugby match. I felt a little bit common!!!
Twickenham was a nice town and the whole area was very well organised. We managed to go for a nice curry right after the match. We left the curry place at about 6.30pm and it was dark. It felt really late! Off we went to go to the pub and it was FULL to bursting with drunk rugby fans singing to the Grease mega-mix. Quite a sight...

Sunday, 2 November 2008

Blunt hedgehog cake

This is the cake I made for my Mum's birthday today. It's a normal vanilla victoria sponge made with 4 eggs. The icing is made from cream cheese, icing sugar (I used golden), lime zest and lime juice. Then I topped the cake with yummy blueberries. I thought it looked a little like a hedgehog who's prickles have been squished!! Thankfully it tasted better than squashed hedgehog.

Friday, 31 October 2008

Clotted cream spinach soup

The title conjours up a strange soup. It was more a soup of what needed eating from the fridge.
I simply steamed some spinach and blended it, added it to some lightly fried onion and garlic, added water and stock powder and heated. When the soup was hot I stirred in some clotted cream. It was an incredibly rich soup and the bread you see in the background barely got a look in!
It was a lovely lunch on a cold autumnal day.

Saturday, 18 October 2008

House selling

Another exciting development this month is we've put our house on the market. We've found one we like up the road so we thought we'd see if we can sell our house to buy this one! It's only been a couple of weeks and we've had a few viewings but this has also been stressful.
For those of you who know me in person, I am not a tidy person. My idea of tidying up is to put everything into a pile and hope it disappears. It's been tough to have everything put away all the time. Even in the kitchen I have to keep everything all nice and clean. It's killing me! So the sooner we sell and can get moving the better.

Obviously a big barrier to us moving is the state of the economy. Or maybe I should re-phrase that into the state of the economy according to the scare-mongering media. Yes, I agree prices have gone up and that we're likely to go into recession at some point but I am getting sick to death of all the news stories implying that the world is about to end.

Even if the world is about to end, there really is no point in getting everyone into a complete frenzy over it. Recession is a natural thing to occur and we should be grateful that it's not happened before now as we're due one approximately every 20 years. But really, what is the point in making everyone sad and fearful when there is actually little anyone can do?

I think that we'll probably go into a recession quicker because of the media. People are cancelling plans and putting spending on hold. That is just the kind of behaviour that will push our country into a recession. I guess the only up-side to all this Credit Crunch hoo-haa is that we're not having to hear quite so much about the US election!

The baby's ill!

Our little cat has been really ill this week. He nearly died on Sunday and then during the week we were given the option of paying through the nose or having him put down. We have paid for him to have all the treatment he needs and we're still just sitting with him with our fingers crossed.
I always thought people were mad to get to upset when they lost a pet, but now I understand. There have been tears and a general air of sadness in the house this week, which is really awful.
He's had an operation and needs to recuperate over the weekend so we're in charge of caring for him. We have to check various things every FOUR hours - even through the night. I thought I was tired last night but it's nothing to how tired I am now
I am not sure I could have children if this is how stressful it is when they're ill. Keep your fingers crossed for the baby/cat!

New job update

September flew by. The new job has been going well and there has been a lot going on.
I was surprised with the new job with how different it is from my last one. Before, I was in a comprehensive for children aged 11-18. Now I'm at a College so most of the kids are older.
I have been shocked with some of the kids at my new College. I have been used to a variety of kids, mostly pleasant but many of them with problems.
I figured moving to work at a College would mean I wouldn't have such issues to deal with. Surrey is, after all, prosperous. However with that other problems are brought to light. For example, those kids who are used to being molly-coddled and having their coursework written for them have had a shock. I don't do that.
Then there are the kids who think that they are the bees-knees. I'm not sure they all have the same reasons for behaving like that but they all need sorting out too. They can't wait til March when they get their first set of AS results back to realise that they need to knuckle down.
However there are still the majority of kids who are similar to those I taught before: motivated, friendly and hard-working. They just seem to be lost amongst the others.

Sunday, 7 September 2008

End of August bento

A bento to celebrate going back to school! This bento (starting from the top right) contains:
  • chinese leaf salad with mandarins
  • spinach wrapped in omlette
  • grilled rice patties
  • soy boiled egg with seaweed
  • blueberries (centre)

Okonomiyaki Hiroshima fu

This was a lunch I made myself a few weeks ago based on a recipe by Harumi Kurihara. She said in her book that this is "almost a complete meal in itself", well it nearly beat me! It was gigantic. It's made of a pancake filled with mangetout, sweetcorn green pepper, and springonion, there should then have been some meat/fish but I didn't have any so I skipped it. Then there's a layer of fried noodles and a plain omlette on top.

I served it with ketchup and pickled daikon on the side. It's probably not a traditional Hiroshima style okonomiyaki but it tasted delicious.

Soft shell crab

I was treated a delicious meal by my love a few weeks ago at a posh place called The Thai Terrace. It was a great meal, and the star of the meal was... soft shell crabs.
I'd seen them cooked on tv and they looked interesting. I can't say tasty because it went against my better judgement to eat the shell of the crab when I am so used to prising the little morsels out of the shells with regular crabs.
I took the plunge and wasn't disappointed. They were so tasty! I was so inspired that I made it my mission to hunt down some soft shell crabs of my own to cook. They were in my local Thai food shop so I bought them, defrosted them, and then panicked! How do you prepare them?!
A little research on the internet revealed that you need to remove the gills and some dark stuff. So I did that and then prepared a light batter to fry them in. They smelt amazing. The taste? Dreadful! I'd clearly not removed enough of their insides! The best part of them was their legs that were crabby and delicious. The rest tasted like a bucket of sand.
Another attempt is required, I think!

Butterfly cakes

Mmm butterfly cakes. The kind you used to make at school, only a bit posher. REAL butter not marg! Luxury!
These were giant cakes really because the plastic cake cases were that size. They are so clever. I am a convert because the plastic cases can be squashed together in a drawer and so take up so much less room than a traditional fairy cake tin.


After 3 years of being unwell and frail my Nanny died on 20th August 2008. She was 85 years old. It was expected and yet a total shock as the whole thing accelerated and few people had the opportunity to say goodbye in person.

That is the role of the funeral, isn't it? So we all gathered to say goodbye. My cousin did a really good reading. When I've looked it up I'll post it here.

May Nanny be happy wherever she is. She's not in pain and her family love her.

Sunday, 31 August 2008


For those of you who read my blog regularly, you'll know I've been suffering from a worsening food allergy that seemed to appear from nowhere. Well, here's an update: it's gone!

Yes, I couldn't believe it either but there you go. Annoyingly Mr Tigerlily mentioned the solution a good 6 months ago, but I ignored him, believing that I knew better. I was wrong. Yes, Mr Tigerlily, that's right I WAS WRONG. The answer was so simple: stop taking The Pill. I started on that particular brand almost exactly 4 weeks before the allergies started becoming a big problem. Now, four weeks after stopping The Pill, the allergies have vanished!

So all I can say is, Thank you Mr Tigerlily for harping on about your idea because now I'm back to 100% health!

Saturday, 16 August 2008

A little bento for my love

It's been a while since I put some effort into lunch so this week I went all out when I found this bento box I'd found. I don't know why I bought it. It must have been spur of the moment because I bought it about 3 years ago and until now have never used it!

So as you can see there are lots of little compartments which keep the different dishes nice and separate. Starting from the top left: homemade gyoza pork dumplings (steamed) on spring onions with pickled ginger in between, Sauted mushrooms in sake, soy sauce and ginger sprinkled with sesame seeds, sweet chilli sauce (hot), Sliced tomato with olives, Coconut rice.

Only problem was I didn't make myself one!

Monday, 11 August 2008

Wedding cheat

Ok ok so I've been a bit obsessed with wedding preparations.
However there is getting to be little left to prepare for! So far we've organised: the ceremony, reception, my dress and as of yesterday, the flowers. Yes I know that flowers bought yesterday won't last until April. I realise that. But they will if they are silk! Hooray. It's cheating I know, but it'll be much easier to match up the bridesmaid dresses with them and I just LOVE them. I couldn't resist. I wonder how many people will notice they're not real when we get hitched?!

Blueangel Craft Group Rises again

So after careful consideration I've arranged another craft meeting for the 18th September. I can't wait. There's a lovely little hall for it to be held in. Send me a message with your email if you want details.

This time we're going to make a tag book. These are so easy to make! I can't wait to teach again. Later on we're going to make a hardbacked memory book. It'll be great!

Sunday, 3 August 2008

Blueangel crafts

During the last few months work has been quiet so I thought I would fill my evenings with something I love: crafting. Inspiration hit to start my own scrapbooking/craft meeting each month to share ideas and meet some more people who live locally with similar interests. So Blueangel crafts was born.

I spent many hours preparing craft kits, making ads, I even paid a friend to make me a logo etc. The big night came... and I was sorely disappointed. Only 5 people turned up, and of those only one was really serious about crafting. The other four had never made anything before. I almost wept with disappointment as I'd worked so hard to plan the 'perfect' meeting.

In hindsight the night was really great fun. The people who were there were a real laugh, which is the main point, I guess. Plus since then there have been loads of enquiries so perhaps I'll take the plunge and book myself some more sessions. Next time I might even break-even!

Leaving a job

Leaving my school wasn't going to be too bad, I thought. Anyway it was miles off. Shortly after that it was the last few days already. Everyone was really kind and I got this sick-feeling in the pit of my stomach of how ungrateful I'd been to all these lovely people. What was I doing leaving this great place?
Then I got stuck on my commute to work again. A mere 2.5 hrs after leaving for work I arrived, having travelled 18 miles. Rubbish. THIS is why I had to change jobs. But how do you explain that to your yr8 students (13 yr olds) who are asking you why you're leaving THEM. Not the school: THEM. I actually felt like a grown-up and like a proper teacher for the first time. Weird how that happens a couple of years into teaching. I had begun to wonder if it would ever happen.
We all know that there are other great kids out there and other nice places to work, but it's a shame this is not normally appreciated until you find yourself in a bad place. Fingers crossed I don't find myself in one of those places next term.

Getting Old

Never have I thought of myself as particularly hip or cool. I've just plodded along doing what I fancy and never being a slave to peer pressure etc. (at least that how I felt) Anyway HTB (hubby to be) and I had a week off at home, since we're saving up for our big day. I'd imagined days of lazing in front of the tv, eating junk and staying up late i.e. pretending we're students for a week. But no. Instead we had an exciting week of kitchen painting, mattress buying and visiting relatives. It sounds dire, and yet, at the time it was boring at all. It was only when we talked about what his colleagues will think when he goes back after a week off. No wild nights out getting smashed, dancing, going to cool bars and nightclubs. Oh no.

Is this what getting old is? Is this how life gets? I was really excited about the new colour of the kitchen walls! Please help, I need to regress!

It has been a while

Yes indeed I have been neglecting my beloved blog. I cannot fathom how almost 4 months have passed since my last post but much has happened:
1. I'm engaged! So that has taken up a lot of my time
2. I've finished at my school and am ready to start my new post in a few weeks time
3. I've become addicted to crafting: card making, scrapbooking and digital scrapbooking. I never knew photoshop would be sooooo addictive. I am currently dreaming of digital layouts.

So that explains a lot, really. Now there's just the fuss of getting everything together for the Big Day without offending too many people. Everyone's been really kind and offered lots of help which is great. I'm sure there'll be some fireworks somewhere but that seems to be par for the course from what I've heard. Who knew this is where my life would be!

Tuesday, 15 April 2008

Naughty cat

On Sunday morning I couldn't sleep. At 5.30 am I got and started watching a film while I did some card making. I thought at least I could be practical since I couldn't sleep. Liam, my cat, was purring around me. I would have been flattered by I knew he was just after food. It was too early to feed him or he'd be after more food by 9am, so I ignored him.

In a strop he dashed upstairs to try his luck with Mr TL. Fat chance, since Mr TL sleeps like a log! So in response to this Liam decided to communicate his disgust the only way he knows how. He pooed on the bed. As if this was not enough he decided to then be sick next to it. Mr TL woke up to see a retching cat right next to him! It's probably for the best that he did wake up though as it would only have been a matter of time before he rolled onto it!!

Ah pets, aren't they just the best?!

Gym guilt

I've done a lot over the holidays: seeing family, tiling, gardening, making cards, cooking etc. yet there is one thing I haven't done. Going to the gym is like my nemesis it seems. When I joined I thought the guilt of wasting all that money would spur me on but I was wrong. Instead I just get a massive amount of guilt even though I've been doing some exercise. It's just not been at the gym. We've been walking!

It's been really great to go out in the countryside and see the land surrounding us. I didn't realise how remotely we live. Although it's just 10 minutes to a town, it feels like we're in the middle of nowhere when we go for a walk. So although the guilt is still there, at least I know I am not turning into a massive ball of fat. There is more to me than that!

Sunday, 13 April 2008

So Surrey dahrling

Half way through the holidays. I'd like to say I've been dedicated to tiling and painting the kitchen as I'd promised myself and Mr Tiger Lily (Mr TL). Sadly this is not what has happened. Everywhere I've looked there've been distractions: Bluewater, friends, shopping, crafts, gardening. Anyway THIS week I WILL finish tiling the kitchen and hopefully paint it too.

This week has been strange, particularly in relation to how I'm getting on now I live in Surrey. Mr TL often has hire cars for work and I consider myself his official car tester. This week he had a Nissan X Trail 4x4. Now I loath 4x4s. I think they should be banned from our roads because I can see no benefit in them compared to regular family cars.

Living in Surrey I am surrounded by 4x4s. I usually feel like the poor relation because I drive a small car and am swamped by these huge beasts that are (and this is a giant generalisation) driven by silly women who don't know how big their car is. They drive right in the centre of the road so I have to swerve, block out the sunlight from my windscreen and generally drive me mad.

However, here we were with our own 4x4 to drive about in for 24 hours! I thought it would be fitting to put on my wellies (tres Surrey, dahrling!!)and go for a walk in the Surrey countryside. Zooming about in the car I finally felt like a Surrey person!

Just to note, I am NOT converted to 4x4s. I think they're rubbish and to be honest they arent even that big on the inside. They are just big for the sake of being big and should have huge taxes put on them, or preferably they should be banned. I can't see how we would be missing anything without them.

Sunday, 23 March 2008

Happy Easter!

Here is my festive offering! As the kitchen has been somewhat hectic I had to keep it simple: shredded wheat, chocolate and mini eggs. They still look cute though.
As it's snowing there won't be an Easter egg hunt or anything too outdoors-y. I'll just have to snuggle down on the sofa and enjoy these little beauties!

Before photos

So this is what the kitchen looked like before we started on it. To be fair to it there wasn't really anything wrong with it, so much as it was quite worn out, and the layout wasn't really the best use of space. For example, the fridge was behind the door so if you had the fridge door open and someone came in the fridge door, you would squash them between the doors!There was also some space for more cupboards and storage areas and it was a pain that I couldn't reach the top shelves of the cupboards. So actually there were quite a few things 'wrong' with the kitchen!

This is how the kitchen looked on the 15th March.

It's been a while...

For a the last week we've been redecorating our kitchen! Well, I say we, but I have been more of a dogsbody/observer. DIY isn't exactly something I am competant at but I will give it a go. I'll post some pictures of the finished room when it's a bit more finished.The best thing about the new almost finished kitchen is new oven. It is a real giant! In the guidebook it says that you can cook 4 roast chickens at one time in each oven. Since there's only 2 of us and a cat I am not sure how many chickens we can eat but it's good to know I suppose! I've really missed having a functioning kitchen but in reality it's only been out of action for a week. We're lucky that so many people have given us a helping hand.

Wednesday, 12 March 2008

It's my birthday!

Yes today I celebrate my silver birthday: I'm 25! Officially in my mid-20s. Oddly it seems only yesterday I turned 20 but my parents always told me that time goes faster as you get older.
I made loads of these tiny cakes to celebrate. Vanilla sponge, orange/lemon icing that I coloured pink, pink pearly sugar crumbs and a little jelly heart! How sweet!!!!

Shabu shabu style pork

Yesterday I went on a course up in London. Luckily it was a nice short course but not worth dashing back to school after since by the time I got there the school day would be over. Hooray for the freedom! So instead I went shopping. What kind of shopping.... clothes shopping perhaps? Oh no, not me! I went FOOD shopping.I spent a few happy hours going around the Japanese food shops and treated myself to some nice delicaces. I ended up coming home and attempting to make shabu shabu style pork. It's traditionally a broth which is heated at the table and people cook meat, fish and veggies in it, rather like the European fondue. Sadly I do not have a flame for the broth so instead I cooked the veggies beforehand and then the broth was so hot and the meat SO fine that it cooked in the residual heat. We had mushrooms, purple sprouting broccoli leaves, glass noodles (made of sweet potato) and TOFU! Yes, tofu was back on the menu. It was so tasty.
We ate it with pickled aubergine (not a great fan, to be honest), pickled daikon and ginger and endamame (soy beans in the pod). I also made a couple of sauces to go with it for dipping: one of sesame and one citrus/soy sauce. I can't wait to go to London and buy more food like that because it was a real feast.

Tofu steak dinner

I have never been a huge fan of tofu. I have one tofu recipe that I love: fake cheesecake. It's the best recipe EVER for when you are trying to lose weight or you want to eat less dairy. I've served it to loads of people without them knowing it's dairy free except that you don't ever feel over-full or sick after eating a massive piece of it!
However I felt it was time to expand my tofu eating habits as it's so good for you and it features a lot in the Japanese cookbooks I've been reading. On Sunday I bought a piece of fresh tofu and cooked it as a tofu "steak". It was divine! Just rolled it in some seasoned flour and then shallow fried it in garlic oil. We ate it with spiced miso soup, steamed rice, pickles and stir-fried veggies. Honestly, it's a wonder I bother with meat at all, it was so tasty. I never knew tofu could be so scrummy.

Pumpkin pie

I made this pumpkin pie with a squash because, to me, it tastes so similar in something like this. I cooked a squash a few weeks ago and didn't manage to eat it before it went bad, so I was determined this wouldn't happen again. I cooked the squash, let it cool and then pushed it through a sieve to make it really smooth. Who wants lumps in their pumpkin pie?
Then the next day I made a basic flaky pastry case and blind-baked it. While that cooked I added the puree to a custard mixture with a little cinnamon to make it spicy and yummy. It took about 30 mins to bake and get set and was absolutely lovely when it was warm out the oven. It set so well that I could even take it as part of my lunchbox! Definately will make another when another squash arrives looking a bit sorry for itself.

Curry dinner

I thuoght I would cook a nice curry dinner on a work night as a treat.... I got a bit carried away!

I cooked: Tandoori style marinaded prawns and monkfish, Buttery lentils, Curried swiss chard with tomatoes and chappatis. I must say it was yum. The close-up photo you can see is of the swiss chard. It was really nice mixing an English veg with heavy spices and then lightening it all with a few chopped tinned tomatoes.I particularly liked the flat bread to dip and wrap the food in. Real hands on food. And since I got so carried away I managed to have another round for lunch the next day!

Tuesday, 4 March 2008

Rules that kids could do with learning

I read this on the TES website. How true!

Rule 1: Life is not fair - get used to it!

Rule 2: The world won't care about your self-esteem. The world will expect you to accomplish something BEFORE you feel good about yourself.

Rule 3: You will NOT make $60,000 (£40,000) a year right out of high school. You won't be a vice-president with a car phone until you earn both.

Rule 4: If you think your teacher is tough, wait till you get a boss.

Rule 5: Flipping burgers is not beneath your dignity. Your Grandparents had a different word for burger flipping: they called it opportunity.

Rule 6: If you mess up, it's not your parents' fault, so don't whine about your mistakes, learn from them.

Rule 7: Before you were born, your parents weren't as boring as they are now. They got that way from paying your bills, cleaning your clothes and listening to you talk about how cool you thought you were. So before you save the rain forest from the parasites of your parent's generation, try delousing the closet in your own room.

Rule 8: Your school may have done away with winners and losers, but life HAS NOT. In some schools, they have abolished failing grades and they'll give you as MANY TIMES as you want to get the right answer. This doesn't bear the slightest resemblance to ANYTHING in real life.

Rule 9: Life is not divided into semesters (or terms). You don't get summers off and very few employers are interested in helping you FIND YOURSELF. Do that on your own time.

Rule 10: Television is NOT real life. In real life people actually have to leave the coffee shop and go to jobs.

Rule 11: Be nice to nerds. Chances are you'll end up working for one.

If you can read this - Thank a teacher!

Sunday, 2 March 2008

Valentine cutie

Just a quick one as I feel really bad I haven’t done this before. What an amazing boyfriend I have – he sent these lovely roses to me at work on Valentine’s Day. Very cute!!!!

Random Sunday tea

Tonight we wanted some quick food as we’d spent quite a lot of time preparing a nice lunch for Mothers Day. So I picked out some bits we’d bought recently to see what we could create.
Yesterday I bought my first plantain after seeing a tv show where they’d been fried lightly in oil. I thought it sounded easy enough. When I went to the Caribbean food shop the owner advised me to buy a really black one as this would give a better flavour. I took her advice but was lucky that it was left alone long enough in my kitchen to be eaten – it was very nearly added straight to the compost heap! I discovered that plantains are very tasty. To finish off the fried plantain I added salt and chilli flakes. Delicious. I can only imagine how good it would taste with some spicy chicken or something.
Oddly our meal featured no meat and the only animal product was a small amount of butter used on the okra (ladies fingers). I am madly in love with okra this weekend. I had some yesterday deep fried with chilli, salt, mango powder and garam masala added. They were so good that I went back and bought some more today. I had read here about frying okra in butter. I actually dry fried the okra and then added a teaspoon of butter at the end with a pinch of salt. Oh my gosh it was tasty. I can’t wait to get my hands on some more okra!
The other thing we ate was a noodle dish with ginger, oyster sauce, swiss chard, bamboo shoots and spring onions. It was not my best effort though to be fair. Oh well, we live and learn. It got eaten so that’s the main thing.

Mystery vegetable

I always like to try new foods and today I bought this vegetable today in the Indian cash and carry in a nearby town. I have no idea what it is. The woman in the shop did tell me but I didn’t recognise the name and now I can’t remember even how the name sounded. She told me it’s very bitter but good for your health. She suggested frying it in a little oil and eating it with potatoes and garam masala added. Sounds yum! Any suggestions on what the vegetable might be will be gratefully received – I can’t find it in any of my ethnic cookbooks…

Friday, 22 February 2008

Temporary borrowed penis extension

Not literally since I'm a woman!
I'm not the kind of person who is overly interested in cars. Someone was talking to me about A3s and A4s and I thought they were on about sizes of paper which was really confusing! I now realise these are types of cars.
Now, a few days later, a coincidence has occured: bf has his very own Audi penis extension on loan from work! Even better: it's red! Could it be any more typical...
Having been on a short run in it I have to admit it goes quite fast. But speed, as any woman will tell you, isn't everything.

Creative blockage

For some time I have been trying to write a post on here but am experiencing some kind of creative blockage. I have been creating lots of nice food and reading creative magazines and yet I have made nothing over half term with scrapbooking supplies. It’s getting to be a tad frustrating. How to unblock the blockage?!

Sunday, 20 January 2008

Email that made me laugh

It's silly but being a teacher it is easy to become cynical. This email below epitomises this. It's meant to be a comparison between schools in the 60s and schools now. Judge for yourself...

Scenario: Johnny and Mark get into a fistfight after school.
1960 - Crowd gathers. Mark wins. Johnny and Mark shake hands and end up mates.
2007 - Police are called, Armed Response Unit arrives and arrests Johnny and Mark. Mobiles with video of fight confiscated as evidence. They are charged with assault, ASBOs are taken out and both are suspended even though Johnny started it. Diversionary conferences and parent meetings conducted. Video shown on 6 internet sites.

Scenario: Jeffrey won't sit still in class, disrupts other students.
1960 - Jeffrey is sent to the principal's office and given 6 of the best. Returns to class, sits still and does not disrupt class again.
2007 - Jeffrey is given huge doses of Ritalin. Counselled to death. Becomes a zombie. Tested for ADD. School gets extra funding because Jeffrey has a disability. Drops out of school.

Scenario: Billy breaks a window in his neighbour's car and his Dad gives him the slipper.
1960 - Billy is more careful next time, grows up normal, goes to college, and becomes a successful businessman.
2007 - Billy's dad is arrested for child abuse. Billy is removed to foster care and joins a gang. Psychologist tells Billy's sister that she remembers being abused herself and their dad goes to prison. Billy's mum has an affair with the psychologist. Psychologist gets a promotion.

Scenario: Mark, a college student, brings cigarettes to school .
1960 - Mark shares a smoke with the school principal out on the smoking area.
2007 - Police are called and Mark is expelled from School for drug possession. His car is searched for drugs and weapons.

Scenario: Mohammed fails his English exam.
1960 - Mohammed retakes his exam, passes and goes to college.
2007 - Mohammed's cause is taken up by local human rights group. Newspaper articles appear nationally explaining that making English a requirement for graduation is racist. Civil Liberties Association files class action lawsuit against state school system and his English teacher. English is banned from core curriculum. Mohammed is given his qualification anyway but ends up mowing lawns for a living because he cannot speak English.

Scenario: Johnny takes apart leftover firecrackers, puts them in a model plane paint bottle and blows up an anthill.
1960 - Ants die.
2007 - MI5 and police are called and Johnny is charged with perpetrating acts of terrorism. Teams investigate parents, siblings are removed from the home, computers are confiscated, and Johnny's dad goes on a terror watch list and is never allowed to fly again.

Scenario: Johnny falls during break and scrapes his knee. His teacher, Mary, finds him crying, and gives him a hug to comfort him.
1960 - Johnny soon feels better and goes back to playing.
2007 - Mary is accused of being a sexual predator and loses her job. She faces three years in prison. Johnny undergoes five years of therapy. Becomes gay.

Clearly it was a bittersweet laugh that I had.

Banana rum tart

When I was in France I translated this recipe from a magazine. Since my fruit and veg intake has been significantly lower since I've be told to cook everything I am always looking for interesting ways to eat my 5-a-day.
This was a simple pastry case with 4 sliced bananas, some cinnamon powder, lemon/lime juice, a few tablespoons of demerara sugar and a small amount of rum. I baked it for abotu 30 minutes and it was tasty. A few days later I had the inspiration to use up some homemade butterscotch sauce on it and that was even more delicious.

Cookalong with Gordon Ramsay

I'm a fan of a lot of the food Gordon Ramsay makes even if I don't approve of his potty mouth. So I was excited when I saw the ads for a cookalong programme. I looked up the menu on the Channel 4 website and wrote out a shopping list.
Some of the ingredients I bought elsewhere but the majority came from Sainsburys. It soon became clear why the food was going to taste so good when we got to the checkout. We spent more on the ingredients for that one meal than I would usually spend on feeding us both for a week.

I reminded myself that it was a one-off and drew a deep breath.

Friday quickly rolled around and I laid out my ingredients, got out my saucepans, preheated my oven, chopped my tomatoes etc. I wanted to be prepared as we don't have a tv in the kitchen so I knew there'd be a lot of running back and forth. Luckily I also printed out the recipes on paper so if I missed something I could look.

The menu was as follows:

Scallops with a tomato and basil salsa. This was really easy and quick. You just heat up tomatoes with some herbs and olives etc. while you fry the scallops over a high heat. I wasn't sure about my tolerance for scallops but ate them anyway. Turns out I am allergic to them but it wasn't too bad - took plenty of medication to counteract the negative results. Just to check it was the scallops that made me ill, I tried the leftovers again on Saturday. Yes, it's definately the scallops. Pah!

Next course was steak with 'chips' and salad. The salad was really good - rocket leaves with a light dressing and some shavings of parmesan. Knowing I am definately allergic to that I lightly microwaved mine before eating and it was still nice and peppery. Will definately be cooking that again.
The 'chips' were just potato wedges, which I make all the time so that was simple. I was glad I remembered to pre-heat the oven or they would never have cooked in time!
The steaks were quite plain, just seasoned and fried in groundnut oil. Just before they were taken off the heat we added some butter so they were really rich. I have finally had to admit how important resting the steaks is. They had about 10 minutes on the side before we ate them and they were sooooo juicy and yum. I will have to get some restraint and let my steaks rest more in the future. In fact that course was so good I forgot to get a photo until half way through eating it!!!

The dessert was a lovely chocolate mousse. Who doesn't enjoy a spoonful of rich chocolatey-goodness, right? Well by that point we were a bit tired so dessert was much more thrown together. The nice touch was some mashed up Crunchie bar pieces. They were delicious. Having eaten about 1/4 of my steak I couldn't manage more than a few mouthfuls of dessert so it's still in the fridge waiting for me. All in all, it was a fun night in but definately not something I would do regularly unless I got a tv installed in the kitchen (which I don't plan to).

Wednesday, 16 January 2008

Farnborough Make it craft show

I am getting really excited about this event. It used to be held at Thorpe Park, which although it’s not far away, was much less convenient than this venue. I’ve treated myself to a 3-day pass although I won’t be able to go on the Friday. I’m also booked on some courses. Hooray!!
Will add more about it later.

eBay crazy

Since before Christmas I have been saving up items to sell on eBay; it’s basically clearing some space for the new stuff that’s arrived as there isn’t enough space for everything. Being an enterprising Business teacher I thought I would try and cash in on the situation.
I’d sold stuff on eBay before but generally it was quite worthless stuff. Now I have unwanted DS games, new shoes etc. and these items are worth something. So, on they went to eBay. Shockingly they sold! My strategy was to see just how much demand there was by putting everything on for 99p, that way many people added it to their ‘Watching’ list and hopefully will come back and bid. The strategy has worked well so far. I cannot believe people have paid good money for things I did not want in the first place.
I have now become obsessed with thinking of things to sell on eBay because I know that when Sunday rolls around I am going to have an urge to put something up for sale… perhaps I will be able to achieve the minimalist look after all?!

Monday, 14 January 2008

Raindrops keep falling on my head

It's happening again. This is the time of year when each day feels like a battle. I wake up in a foul mood not wanting to do anything and then hating myself when I get to the end of the day and nothing has been achieved. I can't tell if I am waving or drowning.
The worst thing is it upsets everyone around me, which makes me feel even worse than I did to begin with. There is no rhyme of reason for feeling low. I've done a lot of the strategies I've learnt over the years to try and overcome it: making myself busy, trying to eat regularly and not sleep too much, sitting in front of my special daylight lamp. To be fair, I am much better than I used to be, but I'm still p!ssed off that I get like this at all. Why me?

Sunday, 13 January 2008

American Elections

It’s started already. There isn’t an election until November but already we’re hearing about the candidates and their efforts to secure backing from various states. I admit to not being overly interested in American politics even though I understand that America has quite an influence over the UK. However from my visits to America, I realised that very few people I met over there (East Coast, West Coast, Great Plains) knew who our Prime Minister is. They couldn’t even name him!
Yet I bet we’re going to hear about the 11 months running up to the elections with a blow-by-blow account of what is happening to various wannabe presidents. Surely we have enough news in our own country without having to hear about America’s elections non-stop?

Addicted to Brain Training

As mentioned in a previous post I wanted a Nintendo DS for Christmas and managed to buy one on Boxing Day. Since then I have been addicted to my DS and playing Brain Training. I thought that it would be a phase and that I would only use it occasionally but it turns out to be a daily ritual already.
I look forward to getting home and giving my brain a little training. When I first checked my 'brain age' it told me that I was a depressing 56 or something. Now I have got my age down to 30 - the ideal is 20. I am working hard to bring it down to 20. Although occasionally it does cross my mind to wonder WHY I'm so keen to lower my brain age to lower than my actual age, but it's probably best not to ponder this one for too long.