First day of school

Today is Gning’s first day of “real” school.

Today he starts the Reception class.

He’s been in the nursery in the school for the past fifteen months or so, but this is different.  It means he’s growing up, and I don’t know if I’m quite ready for it yet.  He’s still my baby.  Yes, I have Donut, who is my baby (age 1), but Gning…  He’s my miracle baby, and he always will be.

Here’s a poem I found online…

Dear Teacher

I know you’re rather busy
First day back, there’s just no time
A whole new class of little ones
And this one here is mine

I’m sure you have things covered
And have done this lots before
But my boy is very little
He is still only four

In his uniform this morning
He looked so tall and steady
But now beside your great big school
I’m not quite sure he’s ready

Do you help them eat their lunch?
Are you quick to soothe their fears?
And if he falls and hurts his knee
Will someone dry his tears?

And what if no-one plays with him?
What if someone’s mean?
What if two kids have a fight
And he’s caught in between?

You’re right, I have to leave now
It’s time for him to go
I’m sure he’ll learn so much from you
Things that I don’t know

Yes, I’m sure they settle quickly
That he’s fine now without me
I know he has to go to school
It’s just so fast, you see

It seems like just a blink ago
I first held him in my arms
It’s been my job to love, to teach
To keep him safe from harm

So, when I wave goodbye in a moment
And he turns to walk inside
Forgive me if I crumple
Into tears of loss and pride

I know as I give him one more kiss
And watch him walk away
That he’ll never again be wholly mine
As he was before today.

From a scared parent…
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And here’s the reply I found…

Dear Parent,

I understand that you are scared
to wave your child goodbye
and leave him in a teacher’s hands
don’t worry if you cry!

I’m used to weeping parents
It’s hard to leave I know.
But it’s time to share him (just a bit)
To help him learn and grow.

Let me reassure you
That I’ll give your child my best
I’ll wipe his tears, soothe his fears
And change his dirty vest!

If your darling child is full of cold
I’ll blow their nose all day
Just like you, I’ll care for them
In a special way.

I’ll treat him like I would my own
I’ll catch him from a fall and
If there is ANY problem
I’ll be sure to tell you all.

It’s true he’ll grow to love us
They’ll talk of school a lot
It doesn’t mean they hate you
And that you should lose the plot!

I’ll tell you a secret..
That when your child is here
They talk to me as much of you
Of this please have no fear.

You’ll always be their mother
Whilst teachers come and go
To them you are their number one
This I truly know.

Soon you’ll see some changes
In your little girl or boy
They’ll become more independent
And to see this, it’s a joy!

I’ll teach them all I have to give
To share, climb and to write
But to you they safely will return
To tuck them in at night.

With love from a teacher…

What is it about Scousers..?

Residents of every city have their quirks – and Scousers are no exception. From our language oddities and humour to our love of proper food, our excellent music taste and our intolerance for badly cooked scouse, here are 28 things you should know before dating someone from Liverpool.

RINGO IS OUR LEAST FAVOURITE

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WE MIGHT CALL EVERYONE LOVE BUT DON’T CONFUSE IT WITH LOVE, ALRIGHT LOVE?

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YOU MUST LEARN TO MAKE SCOUSE

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AND CHOOSE BETWEEN BEETROOT OR CABBAGE. IT CAN’T BE BOTH.

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DESPITE WHAT YOU’VE HEARD, LIVERPOOL IS ONE OF THE SAFEST CITIES AND WE’LL KEEP IT THAT WAY

lpool

YOU MUST SUPPORT THE TEAM WE DO, OR AT LEAST PRETEND

eve

MEETING OUR MA IS A BIG THING

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AND MEETING OUR NAN IS EVEN BIGGER

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OUR ACCENT IS LIKELY TO CONFUSE YOU 

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SPEAKING OF WHICH, YOU PROBABLY SHOULDN’T TRY DO THE ACCENT (OR ASK US TO SAY CHICKEN)

george

WE’RE PRETTY CULTURED FOLK

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AND WE’LL HAVE YOU IN TEARS LAUGHING ALL NIGHT

klopp

WE LOVE A GOOD PARTY

sl

AND BUYING US A NABZYS AT THE END OF IT IS THE WAY TO OUR HEART

nabzys

WE CARE ABOUT OUR OWN

hug

IF WE TELL YOU WE’VE GOT A COB ON, IT’S NOTHING TO DO WITH CORN

cob

WE STAND UP FOR WHAT WE BELIEVE IN

lpool

AND WE WILL NEVER GIVE UP

never

WE CALL THIS A CHIP BARM

barm

NOT A MUFFIN, OR ROLL, A BARM!

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WE’VE GOT BOSS MUSIC TASTE AND LOVE A GOOD GIG

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AND WE’RE FASHIONABLE BUGGERS, TOO (SOMETIMES)

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MOST OF THE TIME WE’RE BEING SARCASTIC

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WE’LL SHARE THE BILL BUT NOT THE FOOD

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WE’RE PROUD OF OUR CITY

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BUT DON’T TAKE OURSELVES SERIOUSLY

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YOU’LL ALWAYS BE SECOND TO OUR FIRST LOVE; LIVERPOOL

bev

ONCE YOU GO SCOUSE, YOU NEVER GO BACK

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Car conversations with my 4 yr old

Conversation in the car between my 4 year old and I, last night:

Gning: “You look like a Numtum”
Me: “Well, you are a Numtum”
Gning: “Well, you’re a tumnum”
Me: “Well, you’re smelly”
Gning: “Well, you’re Mr. Maker”
Me: “I’m not Mr. Maker, I’m Mrs. Maker. I make best things in the world anyway. Do you know why?”
Gning: “Why?”
Me: “Because I made you and your brother”.

Expecting silence from this point, but no. Gning always has to have the last word…

Gning: “You didn’t make me and (my brother) – God did.”

’nuff said.

Chicken and Smoked Sausage Alfredo Pasta

It’s been quite a while my last post, and I thought it was about time I started blogging again.  I don’t think I could have chosen a better time than to post a new recipe!

Ingredients

2 chicken breasts

1 smoked pork sausage

1 courgette (for those who live in the USA, you would call this a zucchini)

1 small(ish) unsweetened double cream (Elmlea is perfect.  Again, if you’re in the US, you may call this heavy, or whipping cream)

A couple of handfuls of cheese – I used 1 handful of white Cheddar, and 1 handful of red Cheddar

1 small pot of garlic paste, or if unavailable, 2 garlic cloves – crushed / chopped…  Whatever your preference

A good shaking of smoked paprika

Pasta – I used five handfuls of fusilli

Tablespoon of olive oil – for frying

Method

  • Dice your chicken breasts, slice your sausage, and ‘stick’ your courgette.

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  • Add your pasta to a pan, and cover with water.  Put on the heat, on the hob.

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  • Warm your wok / frying pan up, and add the oil just as the pan begins to smoke.
  • Add the chicken, and fry until fully cooked, stirring occasionally.

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  • When the chicken has cooked, add a decent shaking of your smoked paprika, and add your garlic paste / cloves.

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  • Stir thoroughly, and allow the paprika & garlic to be absorbed just a little.
  • Add the sliced smoked sausage and sticked courgette, and allow to fry – stirring occasionally – until the courgette has started to soften slightly.

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  • Pour in the cream, and stir thoroughly.

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  • Ignore the look of it now…  It’s gone from “pretty” to a mess in less than 5 seconds.
  • Add the cheese – about half a handful at a time – and use the ‘lift & stir’ technique.  (If you don’t know what this is, it’s simple.  Push your wooden spoon / spatula under the mixture, then lift – as if you’re folding the mixture – then stir around, until all the cheese has melted.)

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  • Turn down the heat completely, and sort out your pasta…  I usually drain off the pasta, pour boiling water over it, then redrain.  Add a small amount of butter (small – ha ha!!) and stir until the butter has melted.

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  • Turn off the heat to the cheese sauce & meat mix, and add the pasta directly to the pan.

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  • Give it a good stir, then turn out in to a fancy (if you have one) serving dish.

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  • Help yourself, and enjoy🙂  I served this with a couple of garlic baguettes, straight from the oven.  Yummy.

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Happy new year! It’s confession time…

Happy 2016 everyone!  I hope you all had an amazing Christmas, and a wonderful New Years Eve celebrations.

It was slightly different than the usual in the Insanely Normal household…  We went to my parents house for Christmas dinner, as usual, however, when we got there, my mum asked if I had any meat in our fridge…  I must have looked rather puzzled, as she quickly continued with, “we can’t have the meat that your dad bought, as it’s not ‘dinner meat'”.

My dad had bought a rather large Serrano ham full leg, and although it still had the trotter on, it looked rather tasty.  Dad had sliced the smallest amount off the ham on Christmas morning, to taste it.  To say he was disappointed was an understatement.  He described it more as a “tapas meat” – the type that you use to wrap the likes of asparagus, or the like.

I had to taste it, to see what the fuss was about.  Surely it couldn’t be that bad..?

Yep.  It was.  It was like chewing on the sole of an old pair of shoes…  I think it took me almost 5 minutes to chew, and swallow the smallest slither of ham.  I don’t think I’m exaggerating when I say that the slice was about 1 inch by 1 inch, and was wafer thin.  Bleurgh.

So that was our Christmas dinner…  A plate full of veg.  Thank God mum had a packet of fresh beef meatballs in the fridge…  It was certainly different, and definitely one that will be remembered for many a year to come.

New Years Eve & Day came and went…  Again, we celebrated at my parents house.

Skip forward a couple of rather lethargic days, and we’re on today.  Sunday, 3 January 2016.

After church this morning, I made a big decision.  I would pull out everything that I have stored in the food cupboard, fridge and freezer, and make a stock-list.  I would then go on to prepare a meal plan.

I bet you’re waiting for the confession part..?  Afterall, that’s the title of this post, right?  Ok, here goes.

Hi.  My name is Barbara.  In my household, we waste A LOT of food.

I’m not just talking about filling the plates up too much, when dinner is made…  I’m talking about buying foodstuffs, putting them away in the cupboard / fridge / freezer, only to pull them out again several months later to chuck in the bin.  My decision to sort and plan meals would mean that we would not buy any more foodstuffs (other than bread, milk and fresh veg – when required) until the cupboard, fridge and freezer were completely empty.  I mean, we’re bound to save a few pennies there, right?

I seem to remember making a bit of a blog post about wasting eggs earlier on in 2015…

Back to the subject.

We have one of those fridge-freezer combis…  The freezer is constantly full, yet we barely dip in there.  Our fridge is practically empty, and although we do tend to fill it up completely once every 7-10 days, most of the fresh meat ends up in the freezer.  See a bit of a conveyor belt there?

As for our food cupboard, it is full.  Full of tins, packets, sachets…  Whenever we buy tins and / or packets, we place them in front of the items already in the cupboard.  Bad habit, I know.

Anyway, I pulled everything out, and made a few lists…

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The list above, on the right, is for “Donuts'” items.

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Although cleaning out the cupboards, fridge and freezer can be thought of as a rather daunting task, I did actually enjoy making a stocktake!

After the list making, it was time to create some form of meal plan.  I made up a quick template – listing the days (Mon-Sun) reading down the left hand side, and the week (1,2,3 and 4) across the top.  I would then have the hand-written lists of produce by my side, as I carefully planned meals.

At the end of the plan, I had proposed a plan, filling 21 days for main meals, using almost everything that I have already.

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The plan was then handed to hubby-dearest, to proof-read, and to give his opinion on.  I got the “go ahead” straight away, and the above is what we come up with.

The only thing that we’re thinking about now is, “what about lunches?

So, we’re altering the above – slightly.

We’re settled on all of the above as meals, but we’re now not limiting ourselves to only having (i.e.) fish, chips, peas & carrot on Saturday for our evening meal.  I mean, what is we want the pizza, topped with extra cheese for lunch on that day too?

So, what we have now is a list of meals.  Still, 21 items, but now this will more likely last us 10.5 days instead of 21 (accounting for 1 lunch and 1 evening meal a day).  Do you know what though?  I don’t mind.  The food quantity that we are stocking is still on the decrease, and hopefully, will not be wasted!

Let’s just say – it will now give me something to look forward to, and may even mean that we can experiment a little more, as we’re going to have a “blank canvas” every time we need to go food shopping.

We’ll see.

Shortbread & Coconut Shortbread

It’s Gnings’ last day in school tomorrow, as he is breaking up for Christmas.  I can’t believe how quickly it has come around!

I’ve been struggling for ideas on what he should give to his teacher, and two teaching assistants, as a gift for Christmas; and with money being a bit tight too (I’m still on maternity leave), I didn’t really want to spend a lot.  So I thought, everyone loves biscuits, so that’s what we’ll do.  And that’s what we did!

I think I managed to make about 50 stars, and 35 “gingerbread” biscuits.  The stars cost approx. 50p, and the “gingerbread” ones about 75p.

Here’s the recipe:~

125g butter, softened

55g caster sugar

180g plain flour (all-purpose)

OPTIONAL – (1tbsp desiccated coconut)

Drop of water

  1. Preheat your oven to 190C (170C for fan assisted).
  2. Line a baking tray (or two) with greaseproof paper.
  3. Place the butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl, and cream together, using the back of a large, wooden spoon.
  4. Sift in all of the flour, in one go, and stir it all together using the spoon (this is also the part where you will add the coconut – if you are going to.  This worked absolutely wonderfully).  When you’re unable to stir any more, use one of your hands to start “bringing the mixture together”, in to a dough.
  5. Add just a drop or two of water – just enough so the mixture starts to meld nicely.  Don’t add too much, otherwise it’ll end up all sticky, and icky.
  6. Once the dough has formed a lovely ball, turn out on to a work surface, that has had a ‘scattering’ of icing sugar (powdered / confectioners sugar), and roll out with a rolling pin, so that it’s about 1cm thick.
  7. Cut out your required shape(s) – squares, rectangles, circles, stars, etc. – and place on the lined baking tray.
  8. Lightly prick the top of the biscuits with a fork, and sprinkle a little more caster sugar on the top of each.
  9. Throw them in the oven (well, not literally) for 15-20 minutes, or until a golden brown colour.
  10. Allow to cool fully before digging in.  Be careful though!  They are incredibly moreish.

Excuse the pics – my camera is playing up a little😦

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And this is how I packaged them up – all ready for Gningy to take in to school tomorrow:

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10 things that made Christmas in the 80’s the best…

I’ve neglected this blog a little recently, so I think it’s about time that I brought a little “Festiveness” (is that even a word?  No?  Oh well…  I like it, so I’m going to use it anyway) to you, in the form of a list!  Afterall, who doesn’t love a good list?  :)

Christmas just isn’t the same nowadays is it? We find it very difficult to feel that magic we felt as kids. The whole experience has changed so much over the last couple of decades, with Internet shopping, a million TV channels and a whole host of electronic gadgetry available to us, it’s easy to forget the simpler times.

In no particular order, let’s give you my top ten reasons as to why Christmas was so much better in the 80’s.

  1. TV Times / Radio Times

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With no internet or smartphones the only way to find out what was coming up on TV was on teletext or in TV listing mags. The TV Times and Radio Times were the go to TV guides and of course, back in the day, you had to buy both to know what was on all the channels. When the bumper Christmas Edition was released no one could stop us sitting and circling everything we were going to watch over the festive period.

2.  Selection boxes

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Let’s face it they were just better back then.  The bars were bigger, they tasted better and they had some awesome treats inside!  Oh, you also definitely got your moneys’ worth.

3.  The Argos catalogue

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The Argos catalogue, or any other catalogue for that matter (remember Index?!).  We couldn’t browse the internet back then so this is what we used to find things to put on our list for Santa!

4.  The music

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At least we had a couple of REAL Christmas N0.1’s in the 80s!  The charts were filled with Christmas classics from Shakin’ Stevens, The Pogues, Band Aid, Paul McCartney and Wham!

5.  The movies

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We had some classic Christmas movies in the 80s.  They were that good they are repeated every year on TV!  Santa Claus The Movie was one of my favourites, at the time.  What was yours?

6.  TV Christmas specials

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Christmas specials were the business in the 80s.  What ever your favourite TV show was, I bet they did a Christmas special. Some of the Kids Christmas Specials were a little interesting to say the least!

7.  Decorations

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They may seem a bit old fashioned and out of style now but back in the day the louder, the shinier, and the brighter, the better!  These decorations were hung all over our house – attached to the ceiling with a drawing pin!

8.  Christmas shopping

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Remember when we actually had to leave the house to do our Christmas Shopping?  The high streets were packed at this time of year with people trying to find the perfect gift for their loved ones.  Shops went all out with the Christmas decorations, and you couldn’t carry all of the FREE carrier bags you’d been given to get your purchases home!  Oh, and let’s not forget, that for some reason, it was also much easier to buy gifts to people too!

9.  Christmas present hunt

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I’m sure kids all over the world still do this, but do you remember when your parents weren’t looking, you used to dive into the cupboards and wardrobes to try and get a sneak peak at all the gifts they had bought you? You’d have to be quick though before they sent them all off to Santa for him to deliver on Christmas Day!

10.  The toys

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Toys in the 80s were just better.  There’s no doubt about it all of the things we had as kids were well…  Just cooler than the toys that are around now!  I never did get that Mr Frosty though (thanks mum)😦  Ha ha x