#30daywritingchallenge: Day 29- Organised Or Messy?

It’s the second to last post of my #30daywritingchallenge and I have really enjoyed focussing on other things apart from writing about baking. It has been a great experience and taken me out of my writing comfort zone.

Today I have to talk about whether I am organised or messy? This is a difficult question to answer as I would say I am both these things! I am organised for work as I have to be. The same goes for at home but this does depend on my mood. I can be messy and untidy at other times.
In my job I have to be organised. I have to plan lessons when I am in a long term post and make sure I have all the resources and activities ready for the children. On a busy working day I have to be up and ready, showered, dressed and dog walked all by 7.15am. At the end of the day I have to remain focussed to complete my marking and preparations for the next day regardless of what is going on at home. I have to almost be blinkered like a shire horse and think that I don’t go home until it is done. If things are not done at home then that has a knock on effect at school and vice versa. Also, I make sure I am tidy in school as I am in other teachers’ classrooms. Some are tidier than others but I always leave a classroom exactly as I found it.

At home I used to be fairly organised when the children were younger and before I went back to work full time in a supply teaching role. When my daughter was a baby and I was a new mum there obviously were days when I didn’t get out of my scruffy tracky bottoms (I never stayed in my PJs all day apart from the first day after we came out of hospital) I knew jobs didn’t get done by themselves so I had to get going. It took me a while to get into a routine with the children as it does with all new parents. There were times when my house looked like a bombsite and other times when it was immaculate. Though I never forget one afternoon Mr SmartCookieSam came home from work early to find toys all over the lounge floor after I’d had my friends from the NCT group round. We went off to the park after a cup of tea leaving all the toys on the floor. My husband thought we had been burgled and couldn’t understand how children could make so much mess! That’s life, dear!

With cleaning and other housework it worked for me to have set days for doing certain jobs. Since I’ve been married I’ve always done my ironing on a Sunday morning unless we’ve been busy doing something else. When my children were little Mr SmartCookieSam used to take them out for an hour or so which gave me chance to crack on with it. Now I do the ironing when I can fit it in around everything else. We tend to have mainly a tidy house (Mr SmartCookieSam is a control freak like that) but I have clutter where I keep all my hobby stuff and with all my recipe books. I think I might be messy because sometimes I think, well I need that out first thing tomorrow so what’s the point of putting it away? Though Mr SmartCookieSam is trying to train me. I’ll never be a Stepford Wife though, and I don’t want to be. This is who I am!

So, in answer to the question “Organised or messy?” I’m both!

Sam xx

#30daywritingchallenge: Day 27- My Top Five Drinks.

Coffee

I can’t remember the place where I ended up with jelly beans with my coffee.  All I remember is that my mum was with me, might have been somewhere in York City Centre.

I’ve always loved strong coffee and can’t manage to get off to work without my first cup of the morning. If I am teaching the younger children and depending on the school set up, I don’t always get a break until lunchtime. So I treat myself to a nice takeaway coffee from somewhere like Costa or I take my own in my special lidde travel mug. I’m not a coffee snob where I won’t touch instant- I do. But it has to be a quality instant. I tend to have instant at home unless it is the weekend or the school holidays and then I might make some fresh coffee in my individual cafetiere. My coffee is always with a little drop of skimmed milk and no sugar. If anyone makes my coffee too milky or with full cream milk, it makes me feel sick. I like skinny cappucinos but I’m not keen on lattes or those syrups you can put in coffees. I have used those coffee syrups for flavouring cakes, though.

I love my special personalised travel mug.  It’s great to take with me going into different supply schools.  The only problem is that there are a lot of Mrs Smiths about!
If I know I’m not going to get a break all morning then I sometimes buy a takeaway coffee.

Tea

I sometimes drink green tea.
I love a cup of tea, especially if it is Yorkshire.

I love a good cuppa and even better if it is Yorkshire Tea. If that’s not around then I like Twinings Breakfast Blend. We have them at home and that’s our go to drink for the rest of the day. I’ll drink other teas, like Earl Grey and I love green tea as well. For bedtime I love to take a cup of camomile tea up with me to sip while I’m reading my book. But with coffee, if someone makes me a cup of tea and it is as weak as dishwater I just can’t drink it. Mr SmartCookieSam doesn’t drink coffee but drinks tea. If he makes me a cup of tea I have to tell him to leave the teabag in a bit longer. If I am on my own at home in the afternoon, sometimes I use my individual Cath Kidston teapot and cup.

Prosecco

Having a great prosecco when I’m away with my friends.
This was a gift and a lovely treat.
Enjoying a drink with my friend, Julie.

This is my favourite drink when I meet up with my friends, especially my friend and fellow Wet Wet Wet fan Julie. We have lots of laughs on nights out when we go out and they always involve Prosecco. I don’t really drink it at home, unless we get given a bottle as a present. It’s more of a celebratory drink. Though I might end up having a glass or two on my birthday next week. Then again I might not as it’s a school night!

Gin and Tonic

Masons of Yorkshire Gin Tea Edition.
Whitley Neill gin with Aromatic Tonic Water.

I got a gin miniature gift set for Christmas, and I really enjoyed trying out the Bottle Green Elderflower Tonic Water with some Gordons Gin.
Some Portobello Road gin which we had in our drinks cabinet last year. It was delicious

I’ve always enjoyed the odd gin and tonic at home on a Friday or Saturday night. I used to enjoy Bombay Sapphire and so does Mr SmartCookieSam. But since the resurgence of artisan gins and speciality tonics, such as the Fevertree mixers, we enjoy a little tipple now and again. We’ve discovered local gins such as the ones made by Masons of Yorkshire and also Slingsby Rhubarb gin. At the moment I am slowly working my way through a bottle of Whitley Neill.

Sparkling Water with Lime Cordial

I love a glass of fizzy water with a splash of lime cordial, it’s so refreshing on a hot day. I don’t put too much lime cordial in. Even though I’ve got a sweet tooth, sweet drinks just taste horrible to me. I try to drink plain water as well, even though sometimes I forget to drink enough. This especially happens when I’m at work!

A refreshing non- alcoholic lime and soda drink.
A lovely glass of chilled rose outside on a rare, sunny evening.
I bought some Katla Icelandic Vodka recently in the duty free shop at Keflavik airport last year. We toasted the New Year in with it and haven’t had any since.
Love a nice glass of red wine but I hate the really heavy “blackcurranty” ones and they give me a horrible headache.

What are your favourite drinks?

Sam

#30daywritingchallenge- Day 30: This Month’s Highs And Lows

Well April has been a funny old month. It has gone quickly in some ways, yet dragged in others. For my final post in the #30daywritingchallenge I am to reflect back on the month and share it’s highs and lows with you. It has been great fun writing these posts, although in the last ten days or so I have had limited time to devote to them. That is why I’m sharing them all at once, on May 6th!

April’s Highs:

  • Having my daughter back from uni for the Easter holidays and having some special mum and daughter time with her. This included a day out in York where we went for lunch and cocktails.
  • Meeting up with friends during my school Easter holidays from the Clandestine Cake Club and putting the world to rights over tea, coffee, cake and lunch!
  • A few teaching supply days in some lovely schools in my area.
  • Baking cakes and getting lovely compliments about them.
  • Booking my flights to go and visit my brother, sister in law, nephews and niece over in Canada in September. Always wonderful to have a holiday to look forward to.
  • Been out for a couple of meals with Mr SmartCookieSam which has been great to go out on our own as a couple.
  • Great to finally see signs of Spring, such as the blossom on the trees, daffodils and to see lambs frisking about in the fields.
  • The three or four days where we had gorgeous weather and made our spirits rise!
  • Always lovely to sit outside and eat a delicious salad after months of comfort eating in the cold and wet weather.

April’s Lows:

  • The awful weather at the beginning and the end of the month, which has been cold and wet, making me feel really low.
  • Not doing very well at my diet as a result of it being cold and wet and me feeling like comfort eating.
  • Saying goodbye to my Mum at Manchester Airport as she goes away for two months to Canada to see my brother. So glad for Facebook Messenger, Facetime and What’s App but I know she’ll have a ball visiting them and it will be my turn in September.
  • Not having as much income this month as I have had the Easter holidays for the first two weeks of April. As a supply teacher I only get paid when I work!
  • Running over a pheasant who shot out in front of me as I was driving down a country lane on my way home. I had no time to stop and the pheasant damaged the front grill of my car. Thankfully it was mended the very next day.
  • The damage that the pheasant did to the kidney grill on the front of my car.  Thankfully it was easy enough to fix and the new part only cost £33.  I’ve heard of people having to pay hundreds of pounds of damage.

    Although my mum is having a lovely time visiting my brother and his family in Canada, it was still a bit emotional saying goodbye to her at Manchester airport.  She’s away for two months.

As I type, it is now May 6th and we are bathed in glorious sunshine. We have lots to look forward to. Life goes on.

Sam xx

#30daywritingchallenge- Day 28: Annoying Habits

We all have annoying habits. Even people who think they are perfect have traits which winds other people up. In fact, to me being perfect is annoying. No one is perfect all of the time. I am not perfect and I have loads of annoying habits.

Playing with my hair

I would think this is my most annoying habit and I do it when I am wound up, nervous or near the time when I need a haircut. Last week I had a spate of playing with my hair and I think this was when I was feeling worried I wouldn’t have any supply teaching work come in for the rest of the week. It was also on the day I had taken my mum to Manchester Airport so she could fly to Canada to visit my brother. My hair went in for a battering as I worried we would get stuck in a traffic jam on the M62. Then I worried that she would have problems on the flight. Once I got back to work last Monday I felt a l. lot better. To stop myself playing with my hair I have started to put it up if I haven’t had time to straighten it properly. At the time of writing I’ve got it up in a clip. I used to play with my hair when I was at uni and I had longer hair so when the children were young I had it cut off to stop me doing it. But I think I look better with longer hair. That is also partly why I have to knit or do cross stitch when I am watching TV as it keeps my hands busy.

Tapping on the steering wheel in time to music as I’m driving

This irritates the hell out of my children if they are in my car. They think it’s embarrassing but I can’t help it if it’s a good tune I’m listening to. It also stops me from playing with my hair!

Interrupting people

I hate it when people interrupt me which happens a lot. I think it is really rude, disrespectful and shows that you don’t care about what the other person is saying, only about what you want to say. I only interrupt my immediate family but that is because I would never get a word in edgeways or have my say if I didn’t. Mr SmartCookieSam doesn’t like it and says “Will you let me finish?” but I know for a fact that if I did, then my son and daughter would then speak and I wouldn’t be able to say anything. So therefore, in order to be heard then I think I have to push my way in. When people interrupt me it is usually because what I have to say isn’t important to them, they just want to talk about what they want to talk about.

Looking at my phone too much.

I only look at my phone at breakfast time but I do not look at my phone at other mealtimes while I am eating unless I am eating alone. I usually look at my phone to look at BBC News over breakfast so it could be like how people read newspapers at breakfast time. But I insist that my children do not have their phones at the table for other meals. Occasionally I might bring my ipad to the table at the end of the meal to show something to Mr SmartCookieSam or the children but I feel that phones have no place at a family meal. Trouble is I am tempted to look at my phone a lot more since I got a smartphone as it is always pinging with notifications. Mr SmartCookieSam gets really annoyed by it as he uses his phone as a phone. He texts on it but doesn’t understand why I have emails, Facebook and the like on my phone. It does depend what mood I’m in. Some nights I’ll be checking my phone all the time and at other times I’ll leave it well alone hidden in my handbag. It is typical, though that the moment I put my phone away or accidentally leave it at home, is when I get an important work phone call or message.

What annoying habits do you have?

Sam x

#30daywritingchallenge: Day 23- What Is My Favourite Season?

When I was asked to write about what my favourite season was, the answer was obvious: Summer!

These are all the reasons why summer is the best for me:

img_3026
Sitting outside on a summer’s evening with a glass of wine after a busy day at work.

Enjoying my summer holidays doing some crochet, watching the dog play and drinking a cup of tea.
Cross stitching in the sun.  One of the best things about summer is seeing all the beautiful embroidery silks glistening in the sun.
Going to the pub for lunch and sitting outside in a beer garden with the dog.  
Eating ice cream!
Wearing sandals and showing off your new pedicure.  Although my kids think my Birkenstocks are horrible.  
Eating breakfast outside in the summer, even if I have a greedy Labrador slobbering over me!
  • light evenings when you can sit outside in the garden
  • light mornings. I hate getting up, walking the dog and driving to work in the dark.
  • being able to eat dinner outside and have a BBQ. Having said that, the BBQ only came out three times last year because the weather was so lousy on the days we were actually free to have one.
  • looking at all the flowers and trees with leaves
  • being able to hang my washing out. Washing smells so much better when it has dried on the line.
  • going for long walks with my dog
  • having the time to go out for a run. No one wants to go out for a run in the dark.
  • the summer holidays. As a supply teacher I don’t like the six weeks holiday for the lack of work meaning lack of income but I do enjoy being able to spend time with my family and to go out on day trips, etc.
  • It’s usually the time of year when we go on our family holiday or holidays. Although it would be better to go and get some sun in the winter, this is the busiest time of year for Mr SmartCookieSam at work so we go when it suits him, not me.
  • Eating ice cream.
  • Being

Which is your favourite season of the year?

#30daywritingchallenge: Day 22- My Favourite Childhood Toys.

Last week I was in my local Tesco. Usually I’m straight in and straight out again hurrying around getting food and other bits but this time I had a bit longer to wander about. I had a look at the books, magazines and at the stationery. Now I’m a bit of a stationery freak and I love buying pretty notebooks and snazzy pens. I’ll never get through using them all. Then I ended up looking at the toys. I don’t know why I was drawn to the toys, my two children are grown up and their toy stage is long gone. I had been thinking about a present to buy for my baby niece’s first birthday and came away with a little something that I’m saving for when I go over to visit her in Canada in September.

Looking at the array of toys around nowadays made me all nostalgic to my own children’s toys and also back to mine. My children were lucky in that when we first moved into our house our dining room was their playroom. We had a table in the kitchen to eat at but our dining room table ended up being used as the base for a Barbie house for a while. It was handy when friends came round because we could sit round the table with our cups of tea whilst the kids played. They could paint or play with playdough as the floor was a wooden one. Although it ended up being a right mess when my daughter’s Hama beads spilt over the floor and some of them went through the cracks between the floorboards. My daughter wasn’t really into dolls even though she had Barbies and a Baby Annabel. She even ended up with a pregnant Barbie with a fake bump and tiny new born baby. It made me laugh at how once Barbie had given birth her stomach was flat and her boobs were the same size!

The pregnant Barbie which my daughter had, complete with a freaky plastic detachable bump!

But my daughter’s favourite toy was definitely a wooden stable with toy horses, though and played with that for ages. That love of horses has stayed with her into adulthood. My son was obsessed with Thomas The Tank Engine and loved Bob the Builder and his Lego. He had all the Bob the Builder machines and used to push them around on the floor. He used to build his train track on the floor and make all the engines crash with one another. The big obsession was the Lego, though. It started when he was 4 when he got a pirate ship for Christmas. He still has his Lego but it’s all up in the loft. I can’t bear him to part with it even though I used to curse if I stepped on a Lego brick in bare feet- ouch!

My son, now 18 loved his Thomas The Tank Engine trains.  He used to play with them for ages and loved making them crash!
Bob The Builder and his machines were also a favourite of my son.
This is the very Lego Pirate Ship my son got for Christmas when he was four.  He still has all his Lego.

Barbie wasn’t really as popular then, when I was little. I loved my Sindy dolls. The first time I saw a Sindy doll was when I was about 4 going to visit Santa in the Co-op store on Parliament Street in Nottingham. We walked through the toy department and I saw this beautiful Sindy house on display with everything in it, even down to a swimming pool on the roof. It was all I could think of. I think my mum thought I was too young for Sindy then but on my 6th birthday I remember getting a Sindy with blonde hair and a red dress. I didn’t end up with a Sindy house but I had a few things like her bedroom furniture which was white with turquoise bed covers.

This was the very same Sindy bedroom furniture I had.  I used to play with my Sindy for hours.
My Mum’s cousin gave me her Sindy bathroom set when she grew too old for it.
Who remembers this ballerina Sindy?
One of my favourite toys was this Fashion Wheel and I used to make up lots of outfits with it.
My Tiny Tears doll was really treasured.  My mum used to knit clothes for it.

My mum’s cousin who was only a few years older than me passed down a few bits like an orange bath (you can tell it was the 1970s!) Both my nanas used to make me clothes for my Sindy dolls. Before Sindy I had had a Tiny Tears doll and a pram to go with it which I used to push up and down my road and down to the shops. Though one horrible boy who lived down our road decided to play a trick on me and put some dog poo inside my doll’s pram when he saw it outside in our front garden! Apart from dolls I used to love Lego (I still do, and keep meaning to buy myself one of those really big sets to make up!) and remember my parents getting us a Lego set which created a whole village. It was free with some Weetabix tokens, I think. It took a while to build but it was fantastic when it was finished.

This was the very same Lego set my brother and I got in the late 1970s.  We loved it.

My brother also loved his Lego and he had Action Man but the toys I remember him having the most was a Hornby Railway model railway set which was up in the loft. He had an Intercity 125 and a Flying Scotsman on his track layout. My dad had boarded out the loft so my brother could have his Scalextric set up there, too. He had two Mini Coopers which were red and yellow. I was rubbish at Scalextric and my car used to fall off the track all the time. Later on, my brother got into Subbuteo and he had it laid out on a large board in his bedroom. When he was about 9 I recall buying him the Subbuteo team figures for Nottingham Forest, his favourite team at the time.

This Action Man was like the one my brother had.
The Flying Scotsman Hornby model which my brother had.
My brother had these Mini Coopers for his Scalextric.
I remember buying my brother the Nottingham Forest team Subbuteo set for his birthday, probably when he was about 10.

Looking back, it is great to see that some toys are the same as what we have but now of course there are more electronic devices. Kids end up playing on ipads as well these days but lots stay the same. Kids still love their bikes, just as me and my younger brother did as well as my own two children. Some favourite TV characters are still around, such as Thomas The Tank Engine but new ones have come along. Through teaching in nurseries I have been introduced to the delights of Peppa Pig and Paw Patrol!

What were your favourite childhood toys?

Sam xx

#30daywritingchallenge: Day 20: My Happy Place.

The phrase my happy place is used quite a lot these days but it rings true with me. We all have a happy place or several happy places. Places which instantly make us feel relaxed, content, that all is well in the world and away from it all. It may be a place you remember from childhood which you call back up and instantly transports you back to those halcyon days. Or it may be a place you visit regularly.

When thinking about my happy place, I realised I don’t have just one. I have several:

My kitchen:

My kitchen is my go-to happy place when I have a day off. I use baking as a way of relaxing and de-stressing. When I bake or cook I lose myself and concentrate on the project in hand. I guess it is a form of mindfulness for me. I love my kitchen even though I wish it was slightly bigger so I could have a sofa and a kitchen table in it. It used to have a table in it before we redecorated it but we had to take it out so we had more room for cupboards. When I am cooking I have my music on and I get completely lost in the moment.

My grandparents’ back garden:

Both sets of my grandparents lived in Kent when I was growing up. My Dad’s mum and Dad lived in a pretty village near Gravesend on a cul de sac which over looked a sheep field. On summer days we used to play in their back garden and sit out having cups of tea. Later we would watch the beautiful sun sets. I used to sit and do my cross stitch on a garden chair in their back garden and look out at the gorgeous view. Sadly I lost my grandparents one by one and their house was sold. I would never forget how content I used to feel in their pretty back garden so when we first viewed our own house back in 2003 I was so taken with the view in our garden. Although our house is in the Vale of York, in the height of summer the sun sets right at the back over a view of a field just like it was in my grandparent’s garden. I’m not at all green fingered but I remember the scent of the colourful sweet peas growing up along some canes as well as some pretty hydrangeas. I also remember Grandad’s strawberry patch and raspberry canes and how when the fruit appeared it was like finding treasure.

Fountains Abbey near Ripon, North Yorkshire:

Fountains Abbey is about 15 miles from where I live and it is a beautiful, tranquil place. I have been numerous times over the past 21 years of living in North Yorkshire and never tire of going there. From walking at a snail’s pace with my then toddler daughter holding one hand and me trying to steer her buggy with another, to going there on a workshop as a teacher where I had to walk around dressed as a monk all day! It is a place which feels so peaceful even when it is heaving with people. From time to time I park at the Studley Royal end of the estate and walk my dog. Although it is a chore keeping him away from the geese at the edge of the lake!


The Isle of Arran:

Mr SmartCookieSam and I have always loved going to Scotland and our first ever holiday together in the summer of 1996 was a week on the Isle of Mull. We had both been there before and we decided to go there together. We loved it and since then have been back to stay there with our two children. But we have fallen completely head over heels with the Isle of Arran. We went there about 6 years ago on holiday and the scenery was stunning. Not only that but I loved the quiet pace of life. Totally different to all the running around and getting stuck in traffic that we have to put up with in our daily lives back in Yorkshire. Mr SmartCookieSam often gets his laptop out on an evening and sits there looking on RightMove at houses we can buy on Arran. Last year when the ferry left Brodick harbour, I felt like crying because I had enjoyed my time there so much.

The South of France:

I have been to the south of France several times. France, to me is a very special place but I prefer going to the south because of the better weather. A few years ago we considered buying a home in France but never got round to it. It was to be something for us to have as a villa rental business or maybe somewhere where we could go on holiday ourselves. I speak fluent French and feel very at home when we go there. Last summer we stayed in a villa just outside Draguignan. Going to the local market to buy food and walking around, drinking local rose wine and sunning ourselves on the beach as well as sunbathing by the pool. Every time it is cold, wet and rainy here, I think back to last summer and walking through the local town in the hot sun.