Sunday, 23 June 2013

Weekend fun

The weekend started off with a bang with the Year 13 Leavers Do. I celebrate by chopping my hair off - look! A fringe!!!

The evening was Gatsby inspired - my fabulous colleague Jo came in proper flapper attire and looked gorgeous!

It was a lovely night - celebrating two years of hard work with the kids was great fun. The staff who came were on great form as well, making the evening a great laugh!

Following that, Rich and I headed to Norwich for a wander and a bit of a shop. We stumbled upon Macarons & More - AMAZING macaroons and beautiful marshmallows. 

I've been totally inspired so am going to try out these recipes this week!

Hopefully I'll have some yummy treats to share!

Have a good Monday!


Monday, 17 June 2013

How does your garden grow?

Now that the weather is finally picking up, our garden stands a chance of surviving!  B is a typical English man - he loves his garden.  I love our garden.  But I love our garden in the sense that I love to sit in a comfy chair with an iced coffee, basking in the sunshine.

B wanted a little bit of everything, and considering we are renting, we couldn't really dig up the lawn.  I've spent a number of months with the windowsills overflowing with seed trays....needless to say, I'm happy they are out in the garden in pots!

My favourite has to be the coriander and strawberries.  I'm loving the fact that I can just go outside for some herbs. I've even put some to use this weekend while making Savoury Oatmeal Biscuits.  

We have just been given a new camera by Rich's parents and I've been trying to figure out how to use it.  I'm not entirely camera savvy, but I'm willing to learn!  The Cannon Rebel has so far proved brilliant!  I think I'm getting the hang of us, but then again, the plants seemed like the perfect subject!

I'm so proud of B!  It's looking (and tasting) great!  Let's hope the cloudy weather subsides and the plants get the sunshine they deserve!

Happy Gardening! 


Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Summer's just around the corner!

Today I woke up to this *beautiful* sight!

It sometimes feel as though the sun is never shining in England, but this photo is living proof that the weather is changing and we really DO have a summer on the way!

All of this talk about summer leads me to think about the summer holidays and how I'm going to spend my days and evenings NOT doings this:

(Yes, that is a pile of Year 10 marking)

I had a few ideas.  Things I WILL look forward to this summer:

1.  Perfect chalkboard lettering.  Not bad for a first go, eh?  I really want to make a large chalkboard like this one on Little Baby Garvin, but I'm having a hard time finding a frame in the correct shape.  Stay tuned.  I'm sure I'll hunt one down somewhere.

2.  Getting my butt into the gym.  I love going, but I'm finding myself working until late in the evenings these days.  I've been living by my kettle bells doing squats and abs with these beauties.  I'm not sure how much this is working, but this link on YouTube is my next session to master.

3.  Better for me baking and cooking.  My Pinterest boards for food are obscene. Loads of good stuff - like - hundreds of links. But I never have the time to actually make anything that I pin.  Five weeks is awfully long time - I'm sure I'll be able to make something while I'm home.  I've got my eye on these Fruit Snacks.

4.  Read.  For an English teacher, I don't do nearly enough reading.  I'm fairly good at reading books that the kids are reading (loving the Carnegie Shortlist this year), but I'd like to get back into more tangible books.  The Richard and Judy book club always have a good selection.

5.  BBQ and Beer.  I love the idea of hosting dinners or parties, so hopefully with the warm weather approaching I can make the most of my free time and think about entertaining.  I hosted a donut party for the Macmillian Cancer Charity "Night In" a few weeks ago and would love to do something like that again.  Friends came to ours on a Friday night and put the money towards the cancer trust that they would have spent going out!  It was a great evening with good food and friends.  Perhaps at the next event we can actually use our back garden!

All plates Villeroy and Boch 'New Wave'

6.  Rest.  This sounds like a no brainer.  I'm constantly on the go while at work, so I am going to take a fair bit of time to make sure I'm recharged and refreshed, ready for a new school year in September.  I want to enjoy the sunshine and take the time to appreciate all of the good things in life.

What are your summer plans?  Anyone else planning to just rest?


Sunday, 9 June 2013

Hen Do shenanigans!

On Saturday, I went to my friend and fellow colleague's hen do!  I have missed out on a lot of hen dos as most of my friends back in the states were getting married when I was living in the UK.  I was so excited to celebrate with Emma and can't wait for her special day!

The garden party was part one of the celebrations, complete with bubbles, space hoppers, hula-hoops and hoopla (Americans know it as ring toss!).

English Department bouncing!

The bride to be had some quick reflexes!

It was fabulously fun - primarily because we were able to do all of those things that we never have the time to do!  I WISH I could really must bop about on a space hopper all afternoon!  We are going out for a night out later next month for Part two!

All of the shenanigans reminded me of my own hen do in October 2012!  We went to the Peacock Bar in London for Cocktail making and cupcake decorating!  I was utter rubbish at making my drink, but we had such a laugh doing it!  More photos are on their website!

Cosmopolitans...not as easy at they seem!

Liv was a natural!

The finished collection of drinks!

In the evening, we went to an Italian meal where I was forced to do various forfeits involving joining other customers and taking bar tenders' clothing.  My sister in law planned a fabulous do!  I love looking back at pictures as it was just such fun!

Hope everyone else enjoyed their weekend!

Friday, 7 June 2013

Happy Friday!

When I got home from work, B had the *brilliant* idea to BBQ in the back garden!

It feels like summer is here, and as it is such a rarity in England, we thought we would make the most of it. 

One of our guilt pleasures is Blue moon. It reminds us both of America - me, for the whole homesickness cure, and B because it just reminds him of the rockin' time we had back home this year. Lucky us found it in Sainsbury. This prompted me announcement that we would "become beer drinkers."

B made halloumi and pineapple - my absolute favourite. The last time we had this was on our engagement night on a beach in Cornwall. 

For a side, I made quinoa salad with sweet corn, soya beans, green beans, quorn chicken and pomegranate seeds. A little bit of honey and a dash of salt and pepper on this bad boy and we had a gorgeous meal! 

I hope everyone enjoyed their Friday!  Happy weekend!


Thursday, 6 June 2013

New Beginnings....

We still have six weeks left of school here in England, but all of my American friends are greeting the summer holidays this week!  I'm insanely jealous happy for their survival and cannot wait until the 23 July when I get to sing "School's out for summer!"

Even though we have six weeks left, we are making massive changes to the structure of our school starting on 1 July.  We are going to implement vertical tutoring.  Seen Harry Potter and love their house system?  Well, I'm living it.

So the school LOOKS like something out of Hogwarts.  But now we will have four houses and compete academically and through sport and other fun challenges.

I'll lose my form (who I have been with for five years!) and will be in charge of the academic and emotional development of five year 7, 8, 9, 10 and 11s.  I become "mum" to 25 kids.  It's something I have to admit - I really like about the English system because you genuinely get to know these kids and become a part of their lives.

What's more - we will be in an English/Modern Foreign Language "House" named Gloucester-Windsor.  We are totally excited and are currently in the process of decking our department in green and black in order to set up a united house from day one.  I know they are Slytherin colours....but maybe it just means we are "cunning, resourceful and full of ambition."

A blank canvas.  I'm looking forward to filling them, but I'm not entirely sure what I will fill them with. I would welcome any ideas and suggestions!!

As for me, I'm doing some work from home tonight.  I'm updating our KS3 curriculum to prepare students for a GCSE which doesn't yet exist!  Judging by the KS2 grammar test, I can only guess we need to focus more on grammar!  Stay tuned...


Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Breakfast: Berry Style

During the work week, breakfast is usually the last thing on my mind.  From the second my alarm goes off (or after I hit snooze a few times) to the second I walk out the door, I'm going nonstop.   B is amazing and makes my lunch for me - he knows that if I was left to my own devices, I would just eat biscuits from the biscuit tin at work all day...or starve.

Owing to my new and improved "I'm going to eat healthy and exercise!" attitude, I decided it would be a good idea to bring breakfast back into my life.  I saw this little recipe for Refrigerator Oatmeal pinging around Pinterest and thought I would give it a go.  Why not?

And BAM.  Just like that I was blown away.

Quick and easy.  PLUS -  a great opportunity for me to utilise mason jars.  Boy howdy.  I've adapted the recipe slightly because I found the measurements too milky.

1. My *beloved* mason jars, 2. Steel Cut Oats (Course Oats in the UK), 3.  Chobani (another Obsession), 4.  Milk, 5.  Berries, 6. Honey

I poured about 1/3 cup of Steel Cut Oats (uncooked- just dry and grainy!) into the Mason Jar.  I then added about a tablespoon and a half (Baking is chemistry but Cooking is always an experiment) of Chobani.  I add enough milk to cover the oats and then SHAKE SHAKE SHAKE!  I've been adding berries and honey, but I'm fairly certain anything would taste nice.  

Quick and easy?  You bet.  I was full until lunch and really pleased with the amount of washing up.

Any other ideas for a quick and easy breakfast?  I'm always looking for easy during the working week!


Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Obsession: Iced Coffee

I promised Jen of Two Itchy Feet that I would share my Iced Coffee recipe.  I'm not gonna lie - it's addictive as anything and becomes an obsession after awhile.  In fact, today at work I couldn't make one and felt myself going through withdrawal symptoms.  Honest.

1.  Nespresso Pixie, 2. Linizio Nespresso Capsule (*new fav), 3, Cocktail Shaker, 4. Sweetex sweetener (because I am not sweet enough), 5. Ice Cubes, 6. Mason Jar, 7. Milk, 8. Fancy Straw 

Obviously there is any which way to do Iced Coffee, but this is my way with things I had available in my house.  

Step 1:  Brew coffee (large cup) into a cocktail shaker.  I add the sweetner at this point!
Step 2:  Place coffee in the freezer for five minutes.  (Thank goodness you brewed it in a cocktail shaker, right?)
Step 3:  Add ice to the mason jar (or whatever cup you happen to be using).
Step 4:  Pour now cooled coffee over ice.  
Step 5:  Add milk!
Step 6:  Insert swish straw, drink and repeat!

Love.  It.  Not a joke.  I'm pretty sure I could polish off a dozen vast quantities of these over a day.  I'm going to start a campaign to install a freezer at work. And then bring my Nespresso machine with me on a daily basis.  

Maybe a bit excessive...  Anyone else feeling the love for iced coffee these days?


Monday, 3 June 2013

Happy Birthday, B!

Today is B's birthday!  We celebrated at the weekend as I was back to work today and out this evening for my first rehearsal.  The big 32 - as he likes to say - is just another step in his process of "ageing like a fine wine."

I got up early and made homemade donut holes and turned them into fruit skewers. I've seen these floating about Pinterest (obsessed, by the way), and I thought they would make a perfect treat for birthday Sunday!

Breakfast in bed was accompanied by some bubbly, but that didn't last long enough to have a photo taken of it!

Then, in line with English tradition, B opened up his cards and presents in bed.

I'm not great with wrapping, but I can't stand normal wrapping paper.  I use brown packing paper and go to town with black paint and a pencil.  (Polka dots are probably my favourite thing ever)  Note the card on the top of the pile was a USA card from my parents.  They are far better at remembering to post cards than I am!

Presents!  The best bit!

(Please excuse the horrible collage - I am still learning how to work the programme!!)

We decided to have a nice meal out at the Bank House Brasserie in King's Lynn.  I have to admit - we always complain that there is nowhere nice to go in town, but actually it was one of the nicest meals we've ever had in Lynn.  Best. Hand. Cut. Chips.

We made our way home and sat out in the garden for hours.  I went through a fair few Nespresso Iced Coffees (new obsession) and B played with his plants.  The garden now has 17 different types of edible plant (B doesn't like flowers as you can't eat them) - all I can say - roll on harvest season!

When it was time to cut the cake, I made sure it was a cake to be envied.  B had seen those Kit Kat cakes floating about online and wanted one of those, but I couldn't do anything the normal way.  So we ended up with this:

Without a doubt - it is the best chocolate cake recipe I've seen.  I had so much fun making eating the various pieces of this cake while assembling it.  We had a great day - now - on to planning next year's birthday!

Hopefully everyone else had a wonderful weekend!


Saturday, 1 June 2013

Our honeymoon: Kuramathi Island Resort

I wrote earlier about Kuramathi Island Resort in the Maldives.  Well, here's the play by play of our honeymoon in the sun.  Kuramathi was gorgeous and their attention to detail made the whole experience - well - luxurious.

We set off on Sri Lankan Air, making a quick stop in Sri Lanka and then Male, Maldives.  We then boarded a SEA PLANE and set off to our island.  I had no idea what to expect - I had never been on a holiday, let alone an exotic holiday like the Maldives.  We had our own waiting area with bottled water and other treats.  I was jet lagged and hot, but still managed a smile!

When we arrived on a floating raft in the middle of nowhere, we were soon met by a boat which took us directly to the jetty on Kuramathi.  We were each greeted by our own escort who walked us to reception and made sure we had a cocktail, island overview and then took us to our Beach bungalow.  

Our bungalow had an outdoor shower - probably the coolest thing ever.  And a hop, skip and a jump later - the beach!!

On our first night we were sent on a sunset cruise with champagne and local entertainment.  Unreal.  Fabulous dancing!

We went to sting ray feeding a few evenings.  It was always dark so difficult to take photos, but we had to give credit to the poor guy feeding these things!

The food was amazing.  We had breakfast every morning in our buffet restaurant and then lunch and dinner in one of the island's amazing a la carte restaurants.    We were there for New Years, so the lights were still up from Christmas!

Most days we lounged on the beach, but the best bit was the snorkelling.  I never thought I'd enjoy it, but it was fabulous!  There were so many fish right on the reef - even a few Nemos!  We went on a boat trip to snorkel around some of the bigger reefs and that was a brilliant experience.

Oh yea, and there were sharks - everywhere.  They surrounded the island and Rich could often be found snorkelling around them at all hours of the day.  

Without a doubt, Kuramathi was the most amazing location for a honeymoon.  We were treated like royalty by the staff, and although we were only there for a week, it was well worth the travel.   I can't wait until our next visit!