Wednesday 31 July 2013

Week 2 almost halfway through!

I am so loving the break.

Everyday I am awake at 6am with the delicious feeling of a day in which to please myself! I'm almost hoping for a non sunny day so I have an excuse to stay in and do some jobs! I gave my bathroom a good going over yesterday and it gleamed like it was showroom fresh! Related: things I love and hate in equal measure , my taller than me chrome towel rail radiator. That thing is a dust trap.

I cannot stay indoors when it is sunny. I sat and knitted in the sun yesterday, doing that awkward bend your legs to get the sides done pose! I need to sit in the mirror image next time in the awkward bend your legs to get the matching sides done- although when I'm coated in a slick of factor 30 I don't know why I bother! Anyway there will be a new ( at long last ) finished project for you to see very soon!

I have just been on" bloglovin' " and found a lot of you bloggers on there. My dear bloggy chum at Vivi- section :// has a "bloglovin'" button on her home page and now I WANT ONE, tried in gadgets to no avail. Hopefully you will see this Viv xxx

Today I plan on being at one with my kitchen. My absolutely FANTASTIC friend FM at My Beautiful Life heard my pleas from afar ( she's in France on her hollibobs )  and posted some marrow/corgettey recipes for me as I was given some by a lovely neighbour ( yes, I do have some nice ones for those of you who follow me on Twitter ) who has a 'lotty' of which I am envious!

I will be back later with recipes and pics xx
Have a great day!

STOP PRESS!  I did it!!
Have a look and press my button!

Saturday 27 July 2013

Week 1 of the holidays gone!

Wow, what a week!
I am proud of my boy. Proud because he accepted the challenge of being picked to represent England in the International Youth Games 2013
What followed was weeks of training at two different clubs ( weeks of dropping him off at said clubs for me and his dad ) , different meetings to attend for us as we'd agreed to be a host family and finally school finished and the youth games began!

Monday: I spent the day getting ready for our new arrival ( glad we did it last year with school exchange so I wasn't too stressy about it.) At 4'OClock we were seated in the big hall at the sports centre awaiting the arrivals. Then we were treated to a small speech from the media people and our names were shouted out and we were matched up. Just like in school, I was near the end as they went in order of host family names! I was praying ( and so was my neighbour next door but one who was hosting two boys ) that it wasn't the kid with the baseball hat on backwards. You could SMELL the attitude coming off that boy and the overwhelming urge to tell him to pull up his trousers and put his hat on the right way was palpable! International relations may have been just about to break down.

More hosts were matched up, less kids were left. I can only say it made me think about Mr Tom and the evacuees! A handful of hosts and charges remained, including stupid street kid. My name was called, I went forward and to my relief a smiley, well dressed, clean looking sweet boy came forward to meet me. Off we went home!

He was bombarded with questions ( me ), and the upshot was he has two sisters, mum and dad are both teachers, he's done karate for the same number of years as my boy, he's the Danish champion for his age group, Denmark isn't very big though, he likes all food and isn't fussy, he does the jobs my boy does with a shared hatred ; emptying/loading dishwasher, taking the recycling out, hoovering the stairs, etc etc.
He had been travelling on a coach for 28 hours and he was shattered, nearly falling asleep in his tea! So off to bed he went.

Tuesday: Absolutely chucking it down. Training was at 9.30 for the day. The official opening ceremony was in town later in the afternoon. The four boys set off with massive kit bags and massive lunches to enjoy themselves.  The first competitions started.
At 5pm The Town Hall was heaving with youth and host families. Unfortunately, the grand parade planned from our lovely castle to Market Square had to be cancelled due to hideous weather, but everyone settled in for the show. We welcomed the four countries. Watched some Britain Got Talent reject acts - a juggler who was um ok and a street dance act from Glasgow who needed their trousers pulling up and erm a few more dance lessons. Came home and went to bed!

Wednesday: Training was 9:30  - 3:30 then the Danish team were eating out together, so the fun night at the English Karate club was cancelled, so we had a relaxing evening at home.

Thursday : More training and a fun swim. Then a disco! We had to go at 11pm to pick them up!

Friday: Had to drag them out of bed as it was the final day - full competition day. Kumite - sparring. They had to be there at 10 and the Danish boys had to take all their kit with them as they were staying at the Sport's centre till after the closing ceremony. We'd booked a taxi. Approx 9:50am we discovered a blackened banana had exploded in the massive kit bag and covered everything in black sludge. How can one banana go so far! He was told to finish eating his breakfast and I would sort it, as frankly his "man cleaning" was getting him no where! I emptied his bag ( and it was huge, vacuous  - the sort that a small Pygmy family could easily live in ) and wiped everything down. His GI ( karate suit -white naturally ) was covered!! By the way, blackened exploded banana looks and has exactly the same texture as the contents of a toddlers nappy after a dish of branflakes and a glass of prune juice.....
Things were hastily cleaned and sponged off. The taxi was waiting , we stuffed everything in, I did the mum thing ( we can't help it ) by saying "if you'd have eaten the banana in the first place ....." Which was rewarded by a cheeky grin! He is such a great kid. Off they went, I followed down later.

Later: I hate contact sports, I refuse to watch Boxing on the TV. I watched my precious offspring at a competition once and I hated it. So I was a bag of nerves when I got there. I was told he'd already done really well and won a fight. I'd only just got comfy and he was called to fight again. I was trembling as the adrenalin kicked it. I admit, I was vocal! In the end I clamped my hand over my mouth as I didn't want to put him off! It was GREAT to hear his team mates and coaches encouraging him on and he won the second fight! Next up was my Danish son, he was cheered on to victory. The next fight my son had was against my Danish son. I nearly left the room. It was a good fair contest
which was won by our visitor by half a point. Ippon is a full point and a wazir-Ari is a half point scored for different things. Two of the judges thought my boy should have been awarded Ippon because he blocked, turned and counter attacked but the others hadn't fully seen it, it's how it goes and no one was phased. It went the same way in the last match with both boys needing time out for (horrific kicks ) to the head! Anyway it was a great competition and all of the children came away with a medal of some sort!

The Danish and the English teams ( here are my boys )  sat side by side for the medal ceremony
and then we made our way home for a few hours before returning to the Sport's Centre for the closing ceremony. The Mayor came and spoke, the leaders spoke, the children paraded, we were treated to a movie show of the games and then much dancing and gymnastics and live music ended the week on a high. Very quickly afterwards, the Danish made their way to the coach and with a " I have enjoyed living with you" my foster son for the week set off back.
My son's Bronze and Silver medals!

What a week! Now to enjoy the five weeks off I have left before term starts in September! I have GCSEs results to agonise over, a few days holiday in my beloved Wales and then a family wedding to finish off the Summer. it's going to be GREAT!

Saturday 20 July 2013

School is OUT!

Let the Summer Holidays commence! Officially I don't count it as starting till Monday as we get the weekends off anyway! I'm about to strip my bed and tackle some stuff that needs putting away before it gets too hot - yes the sun is still shining-  and before somebody calls the Documentary team working for the BBC programme Extreme Hoarding! I'm then planning on pottering in the garden and generally catching up with a few jobs that need doing. 

I was lucky enough to receive some wonderful cards and gifts from the children leaving my class. Including this! 
I've never seen this before! It's still in the packet, it's going in the fridge to be savoured a teeny morsel at a time! 
I'm planning on sitting in the garden catching up with emails and knitting later. How are you spending your Saturday? 
Love Rachel xx 

PS. Forgot to tell you, met my new potential neighbours last night. They are WONDERFULLY LOVELY! There is a slight delay due to my current neighbours' house they are buying apparently - please pray WITH ALL THAT YOU HAVE that these issues are quickly resolved!!

Although I know you will miss my tales from next door ! I know some of my followers on Twitter will!  Don't worry, the cranks on the other side show no signs of itchy feet! 

Wednesday 17 July 2013

That time of year, again.

It's been "THE" talk off the school nurse today.  
You know the one, the one where the boys get hysterical at words like bra, lobelia* and public* hair, the one where the girls pull faces and stay mortified and disgusted at what they are hearing and seeing! Well, one young chap almost wet his pants at a cartoon picture of a boy and a girl holding hands. He spontaneously combusted at the S word. You know, the S as in a kind of a whale word. Don't make me say it! *

So they all know what their various bits and pieces are for and what they are going to end up like. 
A gorilla like my dad one chap informed us! Quality questions included topics such as now they had "THE" talk ( this is how the kids have been referring to it, thee talk with over exaggerated finger air quotes, will puberty happen overnight, like TONIGHT?! Several kids were a bit perturbed about that- I say kids, I mean the boys. The girls have all been wearing bras since September and thanks to the Period talk in Y5, were mostly non plussed. Although several young ladies were heading home to discover their ummm errr mmm Clatorible* !!!!  The nurse told them to have a good look with a mirror! 
( I am SUCH a Victorian prude! ) 

I was just slightly sad that for some of them who were completely in the dark, innocent childhood really is coming to a close. Two days left is all we have. I'm going to miss this lot, well some of them. A few ill be cheerfully waving off! 

Monday 15 July 2013

Rachel's Manky Veg Curry

Well, as promised in my post yesterday, here is the recipe for my deliciously entitled mouthwatering Curry...

Normally, I turn the Manky veg from the depths of my fridge drawers into Manky Veg Soup. But as I mentioned a couple of posts ago, Summer is happening RIGHT NOW in little Ol England! So I was not really in the mood for soup. I also had in the back of the fridge a Tupperware container containing coconut milk. I was pretty sure I was on the cusp of making coconut cheese but on closer inspection, it was still liquidy.

Now if you want to make my recipe, I apologise for the random quantities - it was a case of cut the major mank away and weigh what was left! I used an online calorie counter to work out values! The official serving quantity for my curry is sh*tloads!!

Here we go!
What I used.(  Calories in brackets are for raw product ) 
 227g red onion - roughly chopped. ( 81)
215g jersey royals - roughly chopped. (159)
364g cauliflower - roughly chopped ( you get the idea?). (123)
86g leek - roughly chopped. (18)
231g swede ( rutabaga for my US Blogpals ) - thinly sliced ( ha haaaa ) . (55)
193g green and red pepper - roughly chopped. (28)
( tip of thumb - optional ) * ( calories unknown )
117g carrot - roughly chopped. (35)
240g chickpeas - the drained weight of a 400g tin. (305)
400g tin chopped tomatoes. (88)
200ml reduced fat coconut milk. (154)
200ml cold water. (0)
2tblespns  generic curry paste ( I used Pataks mild ) . (184)
137g mushrooms - quartered. (17)
60g semi frozen petit pois ( best if discovered accidentally left out of the freezer after making the tea for the HG!!) .(31)
20 sprays of one cal spray. (20)
Large oven roasting tray (0)
BIG frying pan with lid (0)

Here's what I did
Rummaged carefully in depths of drawer and see what can be salvaged.
1. Heat large roasting tray in oven while roughly chopping the veg.
2. Add the root veg to roasting pan and spray ten times with spray, roast for ten minutes
3. Add rest of veg, spray again and roast for five minutes
4. Heat generic curry paste for three minutes in large frying pan
5. Add roasted veg, tomatoes, chick peas, coconut milk and water.
6. Bring to boil, add mushrooms and seasoning, reduce to simmer
7. Cover with a lid and simmer til veg is soft ( well cooked - most of it was soft to start!!!!
8. Add peas five minutes before serving.

Total calories = 1298
Total weight = 2220g

Serves 5 = 260 cal per portion, portion size is 444g
Serves 4 = 325 cal per portion, portion size 555g

You could easily stretch this to 8 good portions!

*whilst roughly chopping the pepper, I was a tad rough and ( the squeamish should look away now ) the knife slipped 3/4 way through the tip of my thumb in a nice slice. My tummy just turned over re living it! It eventually stopped bleeding and a plaster is currently holding it together!

Other things that I have to tell you;
The Y6 bowling trip was fun. My daughter passed her first year of Uni with flying colours and she's been offered a part time to fit in with her studies job! Off to bed for me now! Am shattered!

What do you do with your Manky veg?

Sunday 14 July 2013

Cross Country Japes and a recipe!

Well Blogvillers, I've had a marvellous weekend! 
I finished work on Thursday, finished packing and then my firstborn and I boarded the train to take us cross country from the North West Coast to the North East Coast. The reason for our mini city break was she had to hand back the keys to her Halls on Saturday 13th July OR ELSE!! 

Now, all by herself, ( am I almost surplus to requirements? ) she's sorted out her house to rent next year with carefully chosen friends, which also happens to be within 5 minutes walk of her Halls best friends and the Flat 15 boys. Her house let begins September, the Hall's pairs started July 13th. Because they are very lovely girls they said my girl could store her kitchen stuff, bedding and books there till September, rather than drag it all back here and then back again! 
The journey from Lancashire, up through Cumbria to Carlisle must be one of the most picturesque in the whole wide world. I tried to share this via the art of twitter, however lack of signal muted me somewhat! 
The train from Carlisle to Newcastle is just as pretty but there are no less than 12 stops. It stops at every Farm shed, village and gate. If a sheep were to fart,  the train would stop! Anyway we arrived safely around 8.30pm.

Arrived at the flat and there were screams all around resonating off the walls at their first reunion for 6 weeks. I spied a huge hug off a Flat 15 boy who is in all her FB photos but who is 'NOT the boyfriend MUM!! '

The girl and her friends had planned to celebrate the non boyfriend's birthday so they got ready en masse and then went out!! Leaving poor old muggins here re cleaning the flat and packing stuff away! In fact I'd finished and was in bed before they even left! The youth of today! 

Early next morning, one set of parents arrived and much hustle and bustle ensued until the next parents came. Between us all the girls were packed away and cleaned and tidied, sadly wiping away the traces of their year there. 
We spent a lovely afternoon shopping in the 'Toon'. I can now say I've sat in every waiting area in every fitting room in every frock shop in Newcastle! We had tea out too - in a pub! So decadent! Back to the flat for last minute packing and to bed. Saturday morning arrived and all to soon we had to make the journey in reverse. This time with a massive suitcase, an overnight bag and the child's coffin sized Fencing bag. In fact, a bloke stopped us on our way to the station to ask if we had a body in there. "In this ( 30C) heat?" I retorted! 
 The stench would have been horrific - I was already dreading the great unwashed on the train! 
We got on a blissfully empty train. Secured the body bag and the Mini Cooper sized suitcase and sat at a table. Two minutes before the train left a 'yoof' and his hound got on. A gurt big black sheep dogesque/collie/wolf type thing. It was panting its rank stenchy 'beef tripe for tea last night 'breath all over me. The 'yoof' chose to NOT WALK DOWN THE CARRIAGE  to where there were seats a plenty BUT TO SIT ACROSS THE AISLE. 
Rex was told to sit down. Rex had NO interest whatsoever in sitting down. Actually Rex was interested in everything but sitting down. Rex had a look down the train as far as his lead would let him. Rex then turned his attention to us. We soon made the mistake of cooing over Rex who really was a cute beast! Rex licked my arm from wrist to pit in one big lollopy luck. He then climbed bit by bit onto my daughter's knee! He tried to lick her face. Rex clearly adored us. Trouble is, we are both allergic to Rex type coverings. Also as the weather has finally turned tropical, a real life fur coat wrapping was not a tempting scenario! The yoof eventually pulled Rex back to him and tried to settle him. I was trying now to to wretch at the slight tang of my new 'beef tripe for tea last night' perfume. We spent the next one hour and thirty minutes avoiding eye contact with Rex. The minute our eyes met he made a leap for us!  I was STARVING, but the consequences of opening a delicious chocolate and raspberry cereal bar were far to dodgy to risk! 
They travelled all the way back to Carlisle with us! Eventually Rex lay down, just as we were pulling into the station. 
This is Rex, do not be fooled. He was only pretending to be asleep. He made a lunge for me just after I took this!! Isn't he gorgeous!! 

Today I made a curry, using up all the manky veg languishing in the fridge. Normally I make manky veg soup but as I said, Summer finally arrived! So I set about making a vegetable curry. I have written a full on calorie counted recipe too! 
My dish is named 
'Rachel's Manky Veg Curry'
I will post it tmrw as I've waffled on enough and it's way past my bedtime. 
The Year 6 treat tomorrow. We are taking them bowling. The Treat is definitely NOT for us staff! I will be glad to be home !

Friday 12 July 2013

Posting from afar...

This post is written far from home. In a quiet Hall of Residence in Newcastle city centre. 
Things I have done today ... 

1.Cleaned a student bedroom, sorry, re cleaned it- it'd been done once!! ( actually it wasn't that bad - my child was brought up well ahem, and it just needed a final wipe round. Same re the kitchen. 

2.Folded millions of items of clothing, despite the fact my child has 'nothing to wear'. 

3.Sat in EVERY changing room in EVERY frock shop as my child beavered away furiously to put right the national clothing deficit she seems to believe she exists in. 

4. Paid for a very lovely skirt and two tops for my clearly over indulged offspring- though it was for her birthday AND she got 10% off with her student card! 

5. Went to the pub in the day time! 

6. Ate out at afore mentioned pub. 

7. Wrote this post while clearly shattered girl child snoozes on the sofa! 

Train home tomorrow - I'm hoping its as quiet and peaceful as the journey here! Ill let you know! 

What things have YOU done today? 

Tuesday 9 July 2013

Boiling hot!

 I'm not just talking about the weather, or Gerard Butler at Wimbledon. My blood is boiling this morning thanks to some news I heard on the radio this morning. What has got my dander up this morning?

Human Rights, that's what.

Now I'm not a political being at all, I'm not sure who the guests are on Question Time and I never ever can understand why these people are in charge when they clearly have in idea what they are talking about - a certain Mr Gove springs to mind.

Anyway, it's not the way the Education System is being destroyed that's annoying me. It's the fact that three murderers, currently locked away for Life, on something called a 'Whole Life Tariff.' Are in the news and how these three disgusting, despicable scum are bleating on and ( probably using our tax payers money - I'm not sure ) going to the flipping European Courts because locking them away for life is against their Human rights because they have no hope for a case review. What about the Human Rights of their victims?
The full story here

In my opinion, life should mean life, not different tiers of life. Whole life tariff is reserved for the most heinous crimes. How can murder be graded? How?
I understand about manslaughter, how a person can die in an incident that wasn't pre meditated .... I'm pretty sure that's what separates the two. But murder is murder.

These men should never have been allowed to even THINK about this court action. Frigging Human Rights do gooders do my head in.
Murderers  should be dispatched in the same way they took the life of their victims. Hanging is too humane for them.

"The ruling is expected at 09:30 BST.
The three men are among a group of 49 people in England and Wales who are serving whole life tariffs.
This means they cannot be released other than at the discretion of the justice secretary on compassionate grounds - for example, if they are terminally ill or seriously incapacitated.
They claim that being denied any prospect of release amounts to "inhuman and degrading" treatment and this is a violation of Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights.
They say they should be entitled to have their tariffs reviewed." Taken from the BBC link above. 

You all know my strong feelings on people who break the law, so imagine my inner furnace raging this morning! European court of Human Rights should be scrapped. Forthwith!

Anyway, it's been a while, how the devil are you all? What've I been up to?
At the weekend, the Summer happened in the Uk. It's still happening and I'm loving it. I'd been shopping and noticed a woman hovering near the reduced fridge in Sainsburys. I made a beeline for it and spotted a huge chunk of prime Scottish beef that I would've walked past at £21.98, however it was marked down to £9!!!! I swooped like a Golden Eagle and grasping it in my talons I whirled away from my rival predator ( the woman ) and held my prize aloft for the Hunter Gatherer to see, rather like Simba's father on Pride Rock in The Lion King. Somewhere, Elton John began to sing. 

We ( I ) decided to give Indirect Cooking on the BBQ a go. Basically you put the coals to one side, a drip tray next to the coals and your meat above the drip tray and cook with the lid on. I also had a nice big bacon joint in the fridge too so did that at the same time! It was DELICIOUS. I could have taken it off half an hour earlier really but it was still succulent and so so much tastier. Critics* might argue that because it was such a decent joint of beef in the first place, conventional cooking would have produced the same results. I disagree. I'm planning on cooking the Christmas Turkey this way! I am going to invest in a  meat thermometer to avoid under/over cooking for perfect results every time. ( That's what it says on the meat thermometer advert ) ( I am so susceptible, a marketing man's dream. )
I am blogging this on my birthday present iPad, I haven't synched my phone yet, so will switch to that to insert a photo. Fingers crossed it works! 
~~~3 minutes later ~~~
Ok folks, I'm on my phone, can you tell? Modern Technology is flipping marvellous! You can see the HG carving as he said to me he couldn't believe I'd not taken a photo! So I did :-) The first photo is only half of the joint! So even though £9 is STILL massively extravagent, so far it did Sunday tea, Monday tea, Tuesday's lunch and there's enough for another meal for three of us. I might even freeze the last meals worth of meat because we are a bit fed up of prime roast beef now!!!! 
*My 16yo Son 
Thank you for all your comments on other posts too lovely folks who read my blog xxx 
My question to you today, is what's the best thing you've BBQed?