Saturday, 30 January 2016

I won't be impressed with technology...

Good morning to all you Dear Peeps!

I see I've lost a couple of Followers...maybe it's something to do with the change in BlogLovin' (or whatever) that has been flying about the Blogosphere recently. As a self-confessed Techno Idiot I didn't really understand what it's all about. I don't "follow" many blogs, but I have bookmarked my favourites to return to over and over. Maybe it means I'll no longer be able to comment - I don't know.

Of course, I could have just lost followers because they are bored with my blog! Perfectly possible!! I know it's not the most rivetting blog around, but I enjoy writing it, and I hope there are one or two people who enjoy reading it. And I hope too that it inspires a few people to try new and different recipes.

Mr FD is on the phone to his mum. He chats for hours to his mum. Me and my mum, we're on the phone for about 10 minutes before we run out of things to say. A quick exchange of news and it's finished! 

And there's never much news, as this blog testifies!

This week, I've been preparing lessons, and teaching. That's about it... We had a little apèro at one of my students' homes - he's going to be renovating our bathroom, so Mr FD popped in after the lesson to discuss the quote and to have a little drink. I tried Japanese whisky for the first time, and was pleasantly surprised. 

We went to Ikea and I bought some neat little shelves to put some crafting stuff on. They fit very neatly between my desk and my existing shelves, without blocking the vent for the chimney. I'm very happy with them (although they did need to be "tied" to the wall, and have a pad of about 1 cm height shoved under the front feet, to counteract the slope on the floor!)

I'm doing a little bit of craft work, but I can't show you as 
(a) it's for a swap, so I'd like it to be a surprise for my swapee
(b) I can't find the camera. No idea where it might be. So I can't take any photos at the moment.

So instead I'll tell you about planned food.
Yesterday we had a rather unpleasant moussaka, made with leftover lamb from the shepherd's pie. I did it in the slow cooker, so it should have been unctuous and gorgeous, but it was watery, and almost tasteless. We ate it, but not with much pleasure, it must be said.

TODAY: Mediterranean Sausage One-Pot.I shall add a courgette and maybe some mushrooms to add to the vegetable content. I'm using merguez sausages this time, rather than Toulouse sausages, so it may be a bit spicier.

SUNDAY: Steak with blue cheese parpadelleI won't be using fancy-named pasta though! It's whatever pasta we have in the cupboard from Lidl! I'm not a great blue cheese fan, but there are one or two recipes where I find it tolerable, so I thought I'd try this one.

MONDAY: Mr FD's fasting today it's "No meatballs" - made with aubergine. I'll make these with a tomato/onion sauce and we'll have a bit of rice with them too. The recdipe suggests "sizzling" them in olive oil. We have just bought a new non-stick pan, so I may try browning them in just a mist of oil in the new pan, to save on calories.

TUESDAY: Another vegetarian meal! Parisian red peppers. I have a pack of chilli halloumi cheese that I bought in the UK in summer (I haven't seen it in France) with a use-by date coming up. It seems like this would be a good opportunity to use it.

WEDNESDAY: Slow Cooker beef cheeks in ale Unfortunately we couldn't get beef cheek, so it's not as economical as it could be, but I'm hoping that the quantity will do 3 meals for 2. I'll be putting it in the freezer. Mr FD will be in charge of the accompaniements of mashed potato & carrots.

THURSDAY: Orange & herb chicken - but with just oranges and chicken legs. I can put this in the slow cooker before we go out teaching/shopping. As it's another fsting day for Mr FD, I'll probably have some bread, but he'll just have veggies.

FRIDAY: I haven't decided yet, but it's likely to be a slow cooker recipe that I can prep before going to Montbrison to teach...but as I only have an hour between getting back from one lesson and having to leave for Montbrison, I may choose something that Mr FD will have to cook himself. From scratch. Which is no problem for him! But in that case, whatever it is, it won't involve chilli of any kind. The last two times he has cooked something involving chilli, he put in too much and I found it almost impossible to eat. He has a higher tolerance for spicy food than I do.

As always I want to say Thank You for your comments...
Kezzie: when I left teaching in mainstream education I had cupboards full of Just-in-Case resources which, truth be told, I hadn't used in many years...A lot had come from my mum's resources when shez left teaching! It pained me to have to throw it out, but not many of the staff wanted any of it. Did your advisor make any comment about your paperwork mountain?!

Dawn: Thank you for your comment - and yes, the teaching was fine! It was a bit tricky as the two lower level students had forgotten almost everything and the other two hadn't, but at least I had enough to keep everyone occupied. They like me as a teacher, which helps, and they have intimated that they want to have further hours with mle. I suggested they might like to consider splitting the group.

Maggie: I used to do ballroom dancing, but it was by myself, as Mr FD refuses to dance. It didn't work, as I never had a regular partner. Line-dancing suits me better as you don't need a partner for that!

Lovely Grey: I hope you enjoy the salmon!
Jo: I hope you decide to join in with 40 Acts. I  found it inspirational last year. Here's this year's video...


Saturday, 23 January 2016

Welcomes, Work and What-We're-Eating

Hello, hello Lovely Peeps!

Firstly, I need to say a big Fat Dormouse Welcome to two new Followers. First there is Rae from Felt By Rae who is my swap partner for Mad About Bags's Send A Little Love swap. Then we have Jo from A Whole Plot of Love . 
It is lovely to have you both along for the ride!

 I've been quite busy this week. A couple of weeks back I organised my craft shelves to make them more user friendly (although I am still finding myself , hand hovering by the shelves, thinking "Where did I put that?")

Then I decided I needed to sort out my teaching shelves - I have SO many bits of paper and folders full of lesson plans from various companies. As so many teachers may recognise, I have a "well, it might come in useful one day" mentality. Having gone through folders and thrown out (or rather, put into a bag to be taken to the recycling skip!) things which haven't come in useful in the last 5 years (possibly because I'd forgotten I had them!) or things of which I discovered I had 10 copies, I have reduced the amount of shelf space taken up with folders. It's taken me about two days to do, but I feel I've made inroads. However I do have a very large pile of "Filing" - that is to say the things that I do think will be useful, but which require putting in the appropriate folder. Not looking forward to that job one little bit!

Teaching is going well, and I'm starting to pick up some more jobs. One I'm not looking forward to though is on Monday. It's with a nice group that I taught last year, BUT in 2014/15 they had 50 hours planned, but only completed 34 of those hours before stopping in April (too busy, I believe) Which means I am now having to do 16 hours with a group who, if I'm brutally honest, didn't get very far in their first 34 hours. I'm going to spend all the time revising what we've already done, only to run out of time so we don't progress much further. It's been, difficumlt planning the first 4 hour lesson (aargh!) because I have no idea what they will have remembered & what they will have forgotten. Added to which, there was a definite split in abilities. Oh well. It's work. Which is always nice!!

Anyway, what's the Food plan this week?

TODAY: Pasta bake, using bits and bobs from the fridge. I had planned something different but then forgot to buy the vital ingredients!!

SUNDAY: Honey Duck Breast with broccoli. I bought 3 duck breasts at half price a few weeks ago, and put them in the freezer. Time to pull one of them out, I think! I love duck!!

MONDAY: Monkfish kebabs (but we're having them with noodles and stir fried veggies, not with rosti)

Mr FD will be cooking this one, as I'm teaching until 7.00 in Montbrison, so I won't get home until 7.45. 

TUESDAY: Root vegetable Boulangèrefrom the Hairy Dieters, plus grilled pork chops. We're going to Ikea today, where I hope to pick up one of their frozen hams. They sold them last Christmas - ready boiled for roasting. It's hard to find a gammon joint here, so these are useful. I'm hoping they will have some from this Christmas.

WEDNESDAY: Shepherds Pie - the recipe from my Slow Cooker bok, involves slow cooking a shoulder of lamb, then shredding the meat and topping with potatoes. I'll start off the joint in the slow cooker before I go out in the morning, then Mr FD will be in charge of the rest before I get home from dancing.

Last week I had a lesson cancelled and so was able to do all the Debutant AND all the Novice dance sessions. I was knackered at the end. I really do have to practise this weekend as the new dance we learned was easy-but-complicated. Should you feel inclined to watch what I get up to, here's another group dancing this one

THURSDAY: Using up some of the shepherd's pie mix, we'll have "ding" cuisine when we get back from shopping/teaching tonight. With rice and vegetables.

FRIDAY: I haven't planned this yet as I do the next week's plan on Thursday before going shopping. Last Friday we had Spanish-style chicken done in the slow cooker - peppers, olive, chorizo.

Thank you for your comments!
Lovely Grey clicked on the Tortoise link from last week...If you haven't, please do.  I don't know if you made the salmon & chickpea dish, but Mr FD did. It was lush. I recommend it.

Sorry there's nothing more exciting for me to write about. Hey-ho! I do admire people who can find things to blog about every day. Mind you, starting from February 10th I'll be blogging about 40 Acts again, over at The Teapot! 

I'm looking forward to this again - it has certainly made a difference in my life - not a big one, it's true, but I have learned to look at situations through more generous eyes (from time to time)! Still a work in progress , of course!

Saturday, 16 January 2016

Possibly the most important tortoise you'll ever meet

Hello dear Peeps.

The very first thing I want to do is share this. Please watch it, as a tribute to the late, great Alan Rickman. One of the last things he did was to do the voiceover for this video - it is helping refugees.

I've put it on my Facebook page. If you are so inclined, perhaps you could put it on yours too.

Thank you.

 I've been making cards this week - if you wish you can see them over at The Teapot.

Yesterday evening we had a very enjoyable dinner - a really easy oven-baked risotto, with bacon and leeks. Similar to this recipe but with leeks instead of onions and no cherry tomatoes. I also stirred in a big spoonful of cream cheese near the end of cooking which added to the creaminess. We had it with a chicory based salad.

TODAY I have planned baked sausages with two onion marmalade. I will pop a couple of potatoes in the oven to bake and probably squeeze in a dish full of endives for good measure. 

We'll have this with gnocchi and green beans. And possibly carrots too.

MONDAY: Aubergine lasagne - except with my lasagne I'm not actually using any pasta! The aubergine is the layering material. I think it involves a bit of crumbled feta in the sauce too (I don't have the recipe handy, and Bib the cat is resting on my arm so I can't disturb her to go and see.)

Eeeew - triple chins!!!
TUESDAY: Chicken-and-olive casserole I'm teaching so will be late home. Mr FD is in charge. I started with this student last week - he is a real sweetie! Loves talking - which always makes life easier! On Thursday I had a phone lesson with someone who gave one sentence answers to all my questions, which made for a difficult 45 minutes! Daniel does not have that affliction - the problem may be stopping him talking long enough to teach some grammar!!

Again, Mr FD is in charge. I was going to choose another curry recipe, but I'm a little wary of Mr FD's curries now. When he made the curry last Wednesday I couldn't eat it! It was too spicy. In fact, he agreed it was too spicy, as even he - who likes a hot curry - couldn't finish it. I managed to pick the veggies out, and eat those. But his flatbreads were absolutely delicious!!! I couldn't fault those.

THURSDAY: Tomato and bacon sauce, with mashed sweet potatoes (cooked in the microwave) and salad. This is a quick throw-together meal for when we get back from shopping.

So there you are! The menus that are planned for this week.

As always, thank you for your comments.

obviously going with the tortoise theme this week!!
POMPOM - Thanks for the dinner invite last week. I don't often eat shellfish & crustaceans so lobster will be a treat!
I assume KEZZIE doesn't like mushrooms! How can you not like mushrooms?! (Well, I understand how you can't like mushrooms, as I don't like brussel sprouts, but all the same...)


Friday, 15 January 2016

Monday, 11 January 2016

So how many Days of Christmas is that?!

I have really stretchedout my Twelve Days of Christmas swap! The idea was to send your partner 12 gifts to be opened one a day for the Twelve Days of Christmas. Lovely idea, but somehow I kept forgetting to open a present (forgetting a present - how?!) or I wasn't here for a couple of days.

So my Twelve Days stretched into many. I've already shown some of my gifts, but here are the final ones - mixed up, I'm afraid. I can't rempember which day was which:

Two lovely pieces of jewellery - some gorgeous handmade earrings and a pearly bracelet.

Craft supplies - ribbons, lovely butterfly stickers, sequins and papers. I will be making some cards this week, as I haven't got too much work at the moment, so these will be used! I want to send some cards as presents for my next two swaps.

 More chocolate-y goodness! I've popped these in the Chocolate tin on my desk...when I'm flagging I'll help myself to a chocolate coin or two! Mr FD doesn't know about this supply. (If he reads my blog - which I don't think he does! - he will know now!)

Thank you so much Pam for all the lovely presents that you sent me. I hope you liked yours as much as I liked mine!!

Yesterday I made a card (I could have done with the butterfly stickers which I hadn't opened by then!) for my friend's birthday. I used a new die which I bought at the sales for the Big Shot. I'm not sure I like the card that much...I still need to keep practicing I think. There are much lovelier cards out there on the Internet!!

 Looking at it, I think that the butterflies should have been on another contrasting colour strip of paper, rather than just plonked directly on the main card. Still, I like the butterflies, which I think will get a lot of usage.

Saturday, 9 January 2016

Whatever. I'm the star.

Hello, hello, dear Peeps. I hope you are all well, and that you are sticking to any resolutions that you may have made. I didn't really make any, so I'm alright! Mr FD is trying very hard with his 5:2-ing.

 I suppose if I do have a resolution it is to sort out my paperwork and find somewhere appropriate to keep it. Shoving it in a box isn't really sufficient. I think Mr FD gets a bit frustrated that I can't find relevant bits of paper quickly. "Yes, I know it's in this box somewhere" probably isn't sufficient.

I haven't got much other news, and as I've had time to blog a bit more recently, what little has happened has been blogged about - except my 12 Days of Christmas presents... I still haven't finished opening them (!!) so when I have opened the last couple I will post about all the lovely things that I've received in the last few parcels. 

This afternoon I think I will be taking the decorations down from Christmas. Sad face....but it is time, I know. Otherwise they won't be special for next year.

Our food is trying to be a little healthier now. This is what is planned...

TODAY: Harissa Stuffed Peppers with salad. As Mr FD is cycling today I might provide him with some potatoes too. But maybe not, as it does contain rice, so he doesn't need that many carbs!

SUNDAY: Turkey Ragout. Although this is a 5:2 recipe, I'm going to add more to it, as it's not a fasting day. We're having it with mashed potatoes and some more vegetables. 

MONDAY: Sweet chilli pork - not quite this recipe - mine's a bit simpler - but you get the idea. With stir fried leeks and courgettes.

TUESDAY: Mr FD's fasting day - Moussagna. This uses the filling from the peppers (I'll make extra) and then made into a kind-of mossake/lasagna hybrid with aubergine and courgette layers.

Mr FD will be in charge of cooking/assembling this dish as I've got a new teaching rendezvous at 17.30. Not my ideal time, but there you are. It's some distance away, so I'm guessing I'll be home around 19.00/19.30.

WEDNESDAY: Mushroom & aubergine curry. Oh, I've just realised I may need another aubergine!! Again, as I'm teaching all day Mr FD will be making this.

THURSDAY: Hairy Dieter's Chicken Cacciatore. This recipe is not quite it, but near enough. This will be popped in the slow cooker before we go shopping/teaching so it's ready when we get back. No starch with this recipe, but I may have a piece of bread with it.

FRIDAY: Haven't decided yet!!

Thank you for your lovely comments as usual!

Kezzie, Maria and Michelle all commented on my Goats in Trees calendar-to-folder recycling. The goat pictures really were too good to not use again!

I've also had comments admiring my 12 What, Kezzie? NO chocolate coins? Disgraceful!! 

Thank you everyone for taking the time to comment. It is appreciated.

Right! Let's go and root out the box for the decorations, and then spend some time putting things away carefully. The house will look awfully bare after this, I know.

Monday, 4 January 2016

Goats in Trees

What do you do with your old calendars?

I like a big wall calendar in front of my desk. I know that there's one available on my computer, but I find it quicker & easier to just lift my eyes to view the calendar on my wall (with pretty pictures) than faff around opening outlook, clicking on calendar etc. etc. Also my wall calendar is decorative.

But what do you do with the old one, when a new year rolls around?

A few years ago we received a beautiful one for Christmas from my brother. It is photographs of West Yorkshire, and at the end of the year I couldn't bear to throw it away, so it is used as a decoration. I turn the page every month, but I don't use it as a calendar.

In 2015 my wall calendar was "Goats In Trees" - I couldn't resist buying it. Well, actually, first of all I did resist buying it, when I first saw it in Noz. As soon as I got home I wished I'd bought it, but when I went back there were none left. So you can imagine how thrilled I was when I went to another branch of Noz and found just one remaining copy of the Goats In Trees calendar!!

It contained pictures of - yes, you've guessed it - goats in trees! Quite a niche market for such photographs one would imagine...

Just try googling it... 

You'll find out that you're wrong!!

But it's now 2016 and my wall calendar is of donkeys. What to do with that old calendar?

Well, I like to have a cardboard envelope folder for each of my students/groups of students, especially if there are several in one company. It helps to keep all the administrative documents/photocopies etc together.  With my work in ISEKI last term I had eight groups, and by the end of the term the folders I was using all looked a bit tatty. Usually I'd bin them in this condition, but I decided to use my goat calendar to jazz the folders up a bit, and make them usable for another group. So I cut out the pictures and stuck them on the folders, using both glue and sellotape to strengthen the folders where they had torn.

Look! Goats in Trees folders! What fun!!

My other calendar, from the kitchen - useful to see what day use-by dates are - was a jolly little "Colourful Creatures" one
I can use the pictures on this for the background of various cards. That's why I chose it. This year's thin calendar for the kitchen is views of Wales.

Sunday, 3 January 2016

Twelve days stretching into many ...!

Because of my trip to Paris, I didn't open my 12 Days presents for Days 4 and 5...So they were late! But they were:

Day 4
was a lovely little zippered bag, some shiny glittery gold ribbon (which you can see used on some cards over at The Teapot ) and some chocolate coinage.

Day 5

 was this lovely little recipe book, some more chocolate coinage, and a Cadbury's hot chocolate drink sachet! The book is full of lovely recipes, most of which I could happily make for myself, never mind for gifts! I'm definitely going to try the elderflower cordial, I really like the sound of grape jelly, and some of the other chutney and jam recipes, and there are lots of baked goodies too - fudgy coconut brownies,chocolate-chestnut cupcakes, and loads more! Not so good for the healthy eating kick though!!

Day 6...well, I actually forgot Day 6. And Day 7! I didn't open anything yesterday and it is only as I type this that I realise I haven't opened one today!! I'm really stretching this out aren't I ?!

I'll let you know what else I've got in a couple of days!

I almost forgot - I need to welcome Flourgirl and Trudie.

Trudie's blog is over at Trudie's Cottage but I don't have a blog to link to for let me know if you have a blog, Flourgirl. Thank you for following mine! 

MrsNesbitt left a comment last post - good luck on your hjealthy eating, Mrs N! Do you have a blog I can find you at? Please let me know!

Jan - thank you for your best wishes. And also thank you to Amanda, who is holding a Giveaway at her blog. She promised to tailor it to me if I win - very kind, Amanda!

Saturday, 2 January 2016

Trying to be Healthy - and news of a Giveaway

First, the Giveaway...No, it's not mine, but over at Amanda at Crafty in the Med

For those of you who are woolly crafters (not me, I'm afraid) there's a nice Giveaway going on.

This morning I have been going through my Good Food and Let's Eat! magazines and cutting out the recipes I might actually use. Lots of the recipes in these magazines sound quite tasty, but I know deep down thyat I'll never cook them; otherts I know immediately I won't it seemed daft keeping the magazines for just a few recipes.

I've sorted them out and stuck them into a folder, and itemised them into recipes under 350 calories & those unknown or over 350 calories. This will be useful when choosing recipes for Mr FD's fasting days. At the end of the post, I'll put the list of recipes (I've tried to insert the contents page as a table, but then I found it tricky working out how to continue typing underneath! Techno-idiot!!) I'm going to try to plan two or three vegetarian/fish based meals a week: I'm not a great fish fan, as it always seems like too much faff and a bit too much smell. Salmon is okay though, as long as I get organic, so I'll try to do that.

If any of the recipes appeal then let me know and I'll type them out for you (if they're not too complicated!) Is anyone else trying top eat more healthily in the New Year?

Here is a list of said recipes:

OVER 350 CALS/UNKNOWN - vegetarian

OVER 350 CALORIES/UNKNOWN – meat /fish

Aubergine/lentil bake

Sweet jacket potato with piri prawns

Pasta Alfredo Florentine

Firecracker turkey skewers

Oven baked red pepper risotto

Beef rendang

Spinach/ricotta pancakes

Beef supper

Sweet potatoes with mushrooms

Baked leek & bacon risotto

Spiced veg with lemony bulghar

Sticky Chinese chicken

Herby chickpea balls with tomato sauce

Pork/mushroom casserole

Cheese & tomato pasta bake

Tomato/bacon gnocchi

Aubergine & black bean stir fry

Pepper crusted salmon

Mushroom, walnut, chestnut soup

Honey-mustard chicken pasta

Chicken, tomato, olive casserole

Baked sausages

Korean pork burgers with chips

Haddock in tomato sauce

Sweet & spicy sausage & mash

One pan chicken

Spicy pork & bean stew

Chorizo/chicken stew

Veal stew

Lamb moussaka

Italian pork chops

Chicken & pepper pasta


UNDER 350 CALORIES - Vegetarian

UNDER 350 CALORIES – meat /fish

Cauliflower crust pizza

Pork & bulghar stuffed peppers

Vegetarian cottage pie

Sweet chilli pork

Falafel & haloumi burgers

Harissa stuffed peppers

Artichoke/red onion risotto

Middle Eastern Moussagna

Mexican bean burgers

Chickpea & Chorizo Stew

Mushroom stroganoff

Pork meatballs

Vegetable strudel

Thai pork burgers & wedges

Squash & harissa couscous

Pork & butternut squash stew

Aubergine lasagne

Honey-mustard chicken pot

Parisian red peppers

Chicken, peanut stir fry

Majorcan Tumbet

Orange & herb chicken

Mushroom & aubergine curry

Salmon with salsa verde

Mushroom, tomato curry

Harissa chicken & chickpea salad

Not meatballs

Stuffed tomatoes

Aubergine/kidney bean burgers

Chilli spiced lamb

Chickpea stew

Brazilian chicken

Quick mushroom curry

Moroccan turkey meatballs with couscous

Curry spiced veggie burgers

Piri-piri sausages (just!)

Brazilian vegetables

Moroccan spiced chicken

Leek & broccoli bake

Thai fish cakes

Mixed mushroom frittata

Foil baked fish

Stuffed peppers

Sweet chilli beef stir fry

Lemon & thyme roasted cod