Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Cheeky

I baked biscuits for the maths department - having birthday yummies is a bit of a tradition. I made about sixty biscuits: ginger, oat and raisin, and peanut butter and white chocolate.

We nibbled throughout the day. I left four biscuits in the jar ready for the next morning. I biscuit with the ol' morning cuppa goes down well and I had reserved one for a colleague who wasn't very well.

I arrived and found this...

Manfully, I shook my head and smiled ruefully. Morning biscuit was not to be. It was only at the end of the day that I discovered that my naughty colleagues hasn't eaten them at all. They'd filed them! Honestly, they're worse than the kids.

So we all had (slightly stale) afternoon biscuits instead. Lovely!

P.S. They may have done this because of an incident before Christmas when someone hid someone else's quality street all around the office. Rumours that it was me are unconfirmed*

P.P.S. I am drowning under a HUGE pile of marking: yes, it's past paper marking season. I ordered myself a Chinese take out to cheer me up. Totally worked ;D

*Although it was really tricky to put the post-it note dispenser back together once I'd crammed in some sweeties.

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

It is bare difficult to spell homophones

This is a tale of woe and spelling. If you have a delicate constitution* and a dread of such things, probably best not to read any further.

Bare means very. This much I have ascertained. In fact, it would be impossible to follow the conversation of the average student without being fully acquainted with this fact. And yet, however great my command of the colloquial, the spelling eludes me. Until today, I thought it was bear. Y'know, like grizzly.

If something is "bare sick", it is very good. Similarly, if something is "bare dread" it is not very good at all. One might go so far as to say it is distinctly unpleasant. If all this becomes too much, then "jam ur hype" means "Would you kindly stop talking immediately?".

And this is peachy keen and usually gets the point across, and it would all have been fine had I not started wondering why bear and not giraffe, lion, camel or any one of plethora of zoo-dwelling creatures. As it turns out, the reason is because it's not bear at all.

I am going to have to resign my title as the most Gangsta member of the maths department. Obtained the best way through bribery, coercion and all-round general threats and corruption. Unless I can convince my students that correct spelling is not very Gangsta anyway. Which it isn't.

And speaking of being Gangsta, I have made a page about the Birthday Tea Potter. The sherbet pictures were calling to me, but I managed to fit them all on!

Kisses xxx

P.S. In my defence, "teddy bare" is sometimes used to mean very, very. How was I supposed to know that it was a pun?

*It would, however, have to be extremely delicate.

Sunday, 27 March 2011

The Long one about Miss Smith's First Annual Tea Potter

So, it’s Saturday 26th March and large crowds are descending on London to protest government cuts. The Unions are angry, everyone’s feeling the pinch and it’s time to do something about it. However, in a quieter corner of the capital, ladies (and one gentleman) are meeting to do something altogether more refined and sophisticated. It might not change the world, and it may seem slightly less politically aware. They are congregating for a tea potter.

For those who don’t know, a tea potter is a luscious mix of my own creation. If I say so myself. Imagine, if you will, a pub crawl. Now, instead of a pub, substitute a delightful tea shop filled, quite literally with sweetness and light. And instead of an alcohol fuelled drunken crawl, imagine a delicate tripping, a fleet-footed hopping, a popping and a pottering between establishments. Add to this a great deal of tea and cake and you have the Tea Potter. Or, more accurately, Miss Smith’s First Annual Tea Potter.

For those who are interested, the total consumption by myself was 2 cups of tea, three pots of tea, 5 little sandwiches (no crusts), 4 slices of cake and a selection of sweeties. Rest assured that I do not make a habit of this. Let me also make it clear that this does not include generic cups of tea consumed at breakfast or in the evening.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Ruth, Maja and I met in St Pancras, a wonderful place to watch the world go by, admire the architecture of the station sweeping in graceful arcs overhead and home to a branch of Peyton and Byrne. They make the most wonderful cakes. They look so beautiful that choosing is hard and going without friends is nigh on impossible because then you would only be able to try the one you order. I chose banana and chocolate cake. Sounds simple, but don't let that deceive you. Three layers of rich chocolate sponge are sandwiched with two layers of soft, light, banana cream, pale yellow in contrast to the deep cocoa shade of the cake. Topped with a dark chocolate ganache and finished with a rather frivolous dusting of pink sugar sprinkles, it was heavenly – my favourite slice of the day!

There was a long queue – understandable – and I went through ahead of the others hoping to snag a table. Which I managed to do – it was the last one just outside the doors. Chairs posed more of a problem. For a while, I loitered next to the table-with-no-chairs trying not to eat my cake and sipping my tea. Before long however, the next table finished up and left, and as they did so, brought all their chairs to me. I smiled my best birthday smile and thanked them before proceeding to spend the next few minutes defending them from predatory chair snatchers from other tables. However, before long we were all seated, swapping gossip, stories and cake. Ruth went for the lemon and poppy seed cake with brightly coloured icing, inadvertently offending the woman behind the counter by calling it green instead of yellow. It was green. But tasty! Maja had a chocolate hazelnut tart and managed not to offend anybody. Discussion ensued traversing topics as profound as the nature of materialism and as practical as the area one should expect to knit from a single ball of angora wool to make it worth the price.

Inevitably late, (her words, not mine!) Tori joined us at twelve and we began to prepare to potter onwards, towards Drink, Shop and Do. Still feeling like four pretty sophisticated ladies of independent means who also happen to like tea and cake. A lot.

How to describe Drink, Shop and Do? Think of vintage fifties with a dash of seventies and then add some brilliantly mismatched furniture and china teacups. Picture with this some twinkly lights and a bar and put it all in a large white room with plaster decorations. Upon arrival we immediately swooned over the decor and one large round table with a glass top. You could imagine Alice standing underneath it looking up through the surface at a cake marked “Eat Me”. Instead, we looked down through it onto a hoard of boxes of Scrabble. It was reserved but not until two thirty, and clearly we would have moved on by then.

It being lunchtime, we decided to add sandwiches to our repertoire and ordered afternoon tea. Cue the sandwiches – smoked salmon, cream cheese and cucumber, cheese and pickle, and ham and mustard – followed by orange drizzle cake so moist it practically left a puddle on the plate. Following that was a plain sponge sandwiched and topped with lavender infused icing which was fragrant but not overpowering. Finally, we were brought a teacup of sweets. All the delights were artfully arranged on a china cake stand and I feel we achieved true elegance.

Interestingly everything you can see is for sale. Before they brought our afternoon tea over, the cake stand was priced £35 on a shelf. One presumes that there it will return, upon the consumption of its occupants. You could buy your teacup (very pretty as I swapped with Maja), your saucer, your teapot (in my case, golf themed, so no), the decorations on the walls... I wondered what would happen if one wanted to buy the teacup of another customer. Could one demand it’s immediate retraction from business? Could one, in fact, buy the other customers? I put this question to Tori and she offered to buy me. Unhelpful.

Gradually, others arrived: Robert, Liz and Lauren all made it and we had a good natter. I had begun to think that life could not be much improved at this point. However, this was when we discovered the existence of sherbet on the menu. For £1.50, you could purchase a teacup full of the sherbet of your choice and a lollipop to dip into it. Investigating this more thoroughly, I found I could mix lime-green sherbet and blue its-flavour-shall-remain-nameless sherbet, half and half. So I did, in good company with Ruth – pink cream soda sherbet – and Tori - blue sherbet. Oh, and a second pot of tea, lapsang souchong, to wash it all down.

At around a quarter to three, the party who had booked the table arrived and we had to abandon our scene of happy hours passed in good company. Plus I was feeling a bit jazzed by the sugar and perky on the caffeine so it was probably time for a walk into Old London Town. We kissed goodbye to three of our number, and Ruth, Maja, Liz and I proceeded.

Wandering through Bloomsbury is a bit like going back in time. The terraced houses march in beautiful uniform rows, whispering ages gone by. Debating the cuts and the unions’ protests we stumbled across an unplanned teashop on the way to the next place, named, minimally, No 26. However, there was an enormously fat Victoria sponge in the window that was positively oozing jam and cream and so we ventured within.

It was a contrast to the previous place, partly with the quite masculine, uber-chic minimalist decor, and partly given that we didn’t feel much like cake having literally eaten a cup a sugar. Liz and Ruth didn’t even feel like tea and succumbed to the darker influences of tea’s stronger sister: coffee. I had Earl Grey, just to keep the end up. We loitered for perhaps half an hour before waving goodbye to Liz and pottering on to appointment number 4...

YumChaa is nestled in Soho and is frankly my favourite place to get tea in London. The cake does not quite equal Peyton and Byrne and it doesn’t have the themed fabulousness that Drink, Shop and Do has, but it is utterly charming, again, with mismatched furniture and shabby-chic wallpapering that brings to mind a lived-in-and-loved cottage. Plus they have innumerable little pots of tea on the counter that you can inhale until you hit on the brew that speaks to your soul. You may think I take my tea too seriously. You are mistaken: it is merely that you do not take yours seriously enough. I indulged in a pot of one of my favourite teas; Russian Caravan. Rich and with a slightly smoky, exotic background, it’s my go-to tea at YumChaa. I also ordered a slice of the chocolate loaf for good measure.

However, the lady serving it promptly stuck two slices on my plate. She explained that the first slice had been cut very thin so she’d give me a second free of charge. I may have looked alarmed because she pointed out that people normally had quite a positive reaction to being given an extra slice.... I burst into giggles and countered that she had no idea how much cake I had already eaten and thanked her for my birthday treat. I wrapped up one piece to take home. Ruth had a selection of macaroons and a delicious pot of caramel sweetheart tea which I promptly added to my mental must-have list for the future. I shared some of my cake with Maja who was flagging and could manage neither tea nor cake. She lacks experience but we’ll make something of her yet. Ruth offered us a nibble on her macaroons. Innuendo five.

We sat and chatted until six. Protesters wandered in and out, drinking tea and writing slogans such as “Tory Scum” on their faces with lipstick. We spent a fascinating ten minutes watching a girl braid her own hair in an incredibly complicated and lovely way without a mirror whilst carrying on a conversation.

Gradually, we began to feel sleepy. We gathered up our stuff and departed, hopping on the tube to take us home. But not before a half hour spent wandering a vast Paperchase on Goodge Street. Scored some Washi tape.

For those of you keeping count, I had: 1 cup of English Breakfast Tea, One pot of Ceylon Orange and Cherry, One Pot of Lapsang Souchong, One cup of Earl Grey and One pot of Russian Caravan. Cakewise, we're talking one Banana and Chocolate cake, 5 finger sandwiches, Orange drizzle cake, Lavander sponge, a handful of sweets, a cup of lime-and-blue sherbert and a lollipop, and a slice of chocolate loaf cake.

Oh, and by nine we were pretty hungry so Ruth, Maja, Robert and I polished off a couple of large Dominos pizzas, some potato wedges and some garlic bread.

Author’s note: If the thought of eating all this makes you feel slightly queasy, allow me to reiterate that I do not make a habit of it, however much I would like to. Also know that all it takes is a bit of willpower, some good friends to help you, a love of food and some practice. It’s not for amateurs.

Kisses xxx

P.S. This is part of my experimenting with writing the journalling before I ever make the scrapbook pages. I really think this will help me to get more detailed, as-it-really-happened journalling that I will love to remember.

P.P.S. It's census night! Going to make mac and cheese, watch the census episode of the West Wing and fill in that baby.

Friday, 25 March 2011

It's birthday weekend...

Exactly when it is I'm not telling, but yours truly will be turning 24 very soon!


Birthday weekend this year involves something new and fulfils a New Year's Resolution: to go on a tea potter*. What could be better than tea, cake and puns all rolled into one? Don't try and think of anything because it does not exist. Fact.

First thing tomorrow I'm going to get a couple of rolls of film for little Lomo above, and bring big daddy camera along too. For slightly more predictable documentation purposes. Then we will hop from shop to shop, teapot to teapot, gobbling up cake and generally catching up and putting the world to rights. Sorted :D

Hopefully I can get some goodies on camera because I want to spend the weekend scrapping some of the pictures while I wait for the film to be developed. And I've even tracked down some great new inspiration here. I love the designs on these cards. And some of these have arrived today, just in time to help me out! And when I'm not doing that I am going to eat a lot of mac and cheese.

Kisses xxx

P.S. This totally counts as my Blogging for Scrapbookers post as it is a picture of my camera in my flat. Yup, definitely qualifies.

P.P.S. Then I'm going to try an write one of those 25 before 25 lists. More on that another time.

*If you don't know what a tea potter is, I don't blame you because it is a beauteous thing of my own creation. Think pub crawl but instead of alcohol, think caffeine and instead of peanuts, think cake, and instead of drunken crawl think graceful lilting and sparkling conversation. I hope.

Thursday, 24 March 2011

My Inner Pedant

I am partial to a good argument, the cheerful back-and-forth of verbal sparring and the cut-and-thrust of a spot of banter. As a teacher, I have ample opportunity to indulge this habit...

“Miss, can ask I question?”

“You just did”

“Can I ask another one?”

“You just did.”

Face twisted into concentration. “Can I ask two questions?”

May I ask 2 questions”

“What?”

“Pardon.”

“What?”

“Pardon, not what”

“Wha- pardon? Miss, can I ask a question?”

Repeat ad nauseum.

This can happen multiple times daily and you know what? It never gets old. And they never learn. You do have to pick your moment however. Exam-stressed sixth formers have no humour about this sort of thing. Year 7s are fair game and they love trying to get round it you.

Oh, and this is when I'm not even trying....

Kisses xxx

P.S. Thanks so much for the suggestions about the page protectors - I found some!!!! I tracked them down to Capture the Magic, thanks to your help. This makes me ridiculously happy, and now today's project will have a home!

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

A few of my favourite things


I love finding new scrapping inspiration and for that I love to randomly browse galleries, borrowing and adapting ideas. Same goes for blogs and I thought I'd share a few that are currently floating my boat. So grab a cuppa and have a gander at some of these delights:

Coffee Girl Crafts has the most lovely photo collages. *steal*

Evalicious frequently inspires me. Although I don't really do minis - I like to keep everything together in my albums - I do love the things she creates and again, I can borrow ideas for my own hand-made embellishments.

In A Creative Bubble has inspired my recent addiction to paper piecing. Such a simple technique and fab results!

Scissor Quirk is a blog with beautiful crafty pictures with lovely, vibrant colours and lots of fabric-themed layering and ideas. I also love some of the papers she has designed for Sassafras. Yum!

And, of course, I probably wouldn't be writing this post were it not for Shimelle!

Of course, there are things I love outside the internet too. They include tea, singing, photography, mac and cheese, baking sweet treats, reading, films... On my to-do list this month is to make a page about the things that rock my mittens right now. Watch this space!

If you've got any go-to sites, do let me know! Or if you're doing this class prompt and write a post, link me up! Then I shall go and make a cup of tea.... You know how it works.

Kisses xxx

P.S. More on my favourite tea places as I'm planning a special event for the weekend. It will involve LOADS of tea and the taking of a whole plethora of pictures. Which I can then scrap...

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Churros, Chocolate and fake Instax

One of my favourite things about Spain, was the food. In particular, the breakfasts. Here's why...


On our first morning in Granada, we went to a little cafe-come-bar on the corner, teeming with life, people dashing in, leaning on the counter, smacking down a handful of coins and calling for an espresso before gulping down in one and making a beeline for the door. It was a fantastically chaotic place to people watch. I tried tostadas - hot, toasted rolls smothered in peach jam - but my favourite was the churros, cooked to order, and - more importantly - with chocolate.

That chocolate was thicker than double cream, completely sinful and filled with the deep, silken, rich flavour of molten cocoa. Nigella eat your heart out. A couple of Euros bought me three churros and a cup of this deliciousness to dunk them in. And, needless to say, once the churros were gone, I drank the chocolate.

I wanted to get all this into a page, and I turned a couple of my pictures into fake-Instax pictures. An idea shamelessly "borrowed" from Evalicious.* I felt it gave me an extra pop of interest while leaving plenty of journalling space. I need my journalling space. As far as hidden journalling goes, (Shimelle's blogging prompt number 2), I don't want it to be hidden. I like everything to be there on the page so that no one has to take the album apart to read it. Maybe I'll change my mind one day, but for now, if I don't want anyone to read it, I simply don't show it to anyone, or put it up here.

And now, I'm going to put my marking aside and catch up with last night's Glee. My form informs me that it is "epic".

Kisses xxx

P.S. Does anyone know anywhere in the UK I can get hold of some of these We R Memory keepers divided page protectors? The shipping was astronomical from the US - more than the entire order so I cancelled. Sad face!

*I couldn't possible confirm rumours that I ordered one of those beautiful new travel journals. Although one of my 2011 resolutions is to do more travelling...

Monday, 21 March 2011

Blogging for Scrapbookers.

I used to think blogs were...well, silly. I thought it was weird that people would want to write about their lives on the internet where absolutely anyone could read it. Weirder was that people might want to.

Strangely, even people who held this belief seemed to blog. In fact, they seemed to blog about the fact that they couldn't believe that anyone would want to read about the minutiae of someone else's life.

Obviously, I have changed my mind. (Or I'm a massive hypocrite). I love to blog now and I love to read other people's blogs. My main reason is for inspiration: I love looking at scrappy projects, recipes, knitted things, stash, photography and frankly, anything else that's a bit crafty. And it's nice to see and hear about the lives behind the inspiration. It's lovely that communities can spring up across the world and that people can chat, and encourage each other and share inspiration.

Plus, I can show my Mum my pages in my blog.

So, everyone help yourselves to a freshly baked cookie (virtual, and therefore calorie free - calorific recipe here) and I will share my aims for Shimelle's Blogging for Scrapbookers class.

* I want my journalling to be fresh on my layouts. Sometimes I find that I like what I write here better than the words on my pages and I'd like it to be the other way around. I also think that may be because I feel like I'm writing to an audience here.
* I want to write down more stories from school. Being a teacher produces a continual steam of anecdotes and I'd like to record some of them :D
* I'd like to find some fellow bloggers!

That's all for now, looking forward to getting going.

Kisses xxx

P.S. If things go well, I'd love to organise a scrappy event in London...

P.P.S. I strongly recommend that recipe. It's half brownie, half cookie and completely delicious.

Saturday, 19 March 2011

Tales of the Alhambra

First of all, I want to say thanks to Shimelle for allowing me to guest on her blog (HUGE excitement for me!) and welcome to anyone who popped by. Lovely to meet you!

This was one of those pages that it took me a long time to sort out. I really like this picture I took at the Alhambra in Granada and I didn't want it to get swamped. But now I'm happy: kraft cardstock and ledger paper? What could be better? It seems that less is sometimes more and that trying to cram another colour into the scheme and more embellishments just wasn't going to work. I did want quite a bit of space for journalling, just so I can remember the sheer beauty of the place. It was so tranquil and incredibly ornate. I'm going to put a selection of other photos of details in my album with this page. Just as soon as I've got my hands on some divided page protectors!

This week has been busy times ten. I sort of feel like I'm saying this every week but it was especially true this week at school with evening events on top of everything else. Then today I went on a training course for Guide leaders. I'm hoping to finish my leader training by the summer and attending today means I can tick off another section of the training.

Anyway, all being well, next week should be a bit quieter and so I'm going to do some work on one of my New Year's resolutions: write down more anecdotes from school. Maybe one day I'll publish my memoirs, but for now, they just make me giggle so I think I'll share a few.

Now I'm going to go to bed. Early. Bliss...

Kisses xxx

P.S. Has anyone else been watching 'Agony and Ecstasy: A Year with the English National Ballet'? V. compelling viewing, ballet fans!

Sunday, 13 March 2011

Spain! I'm gonna live forever...


...was the song we sang on the plane. It seemed appropriate, given that we were gonna fly: HIGH! Plus we were very excited. However, getting up at 5:00 am to walk to the tube station, catch the tube, then a coach to the airport, followed by the flight started to tire us just a bit. I tiny bit. But then came an hour's metro across Madrid and a 5 hour coach journey to Granada and we were a little bit stir-crazy. So when we stopped at a cafe half way between Madrid and Granada, we were ready to stretch our legs and, in my case, take a photo! I made Ruth sit on the floor of the car park and then self-timed this shot, camera on the gravel, of us on the road. Quite literally. Much Ruth's alarm as cars went past. She still hasn't recovered from the New York incident(s). But that's another story.

This is the first time I've tried paper piecing on a page and I really enjoyed it! I love using coordinated papers from a kit and I'd been totally inspired by Geralyn's layouts and decided to give it go. It's my new favourite thing!

Crazy busy at the moment: an awards evening and a parents evening at school this week, Guides events in the pipeline and generally diminishing scrap time. So I am going to reclaim an hour tonight to watch that documentary about the English National Ballet and play with my stash. In bed. With a hot water bottle and two cups of tea. Bliss!

Kisses xxx

P.S. Look out at Shimelle's blog very soon...

The Albayzin


Over half term, a friend and I went to stay with another friend in Granada, Spain. We were only there for a short time but it was absolutely amazing! The Albayzin, which is the old Muslim quarter of the city, is the most incredible place, full of winding cobbled streets and white-washed houses all huddled together and crowding the tiny lanes. As this section of the city is built up the side of a hill, some of streets become steps. We spent hours just strolling the streets (and in my case, taking pictures) as it was one of those places that is absolutely picture-perfect, even in real life. It's like stepping back in time. Apart from moped-dodging which keeps you alert. Especially as they are undaunted by flights of steps.

I took plenty of pictures and will be scrapping a stack of them over the next few weeks.

Kisses xxx

P.S. Anyone else doing Shimelle's Blogging for Scrapbookers? Or re-doing?

P.P.S. Made giant chocolate chip cookies today and have to recipe share because they're amazing: Linkeroo.

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Busy Times!


Been AWOL for a bit lately. Partly been scrapping for ScrapaGoGo (including the page above!) and partly it's that time of year in the school calendar when you get snowed under with parents evenings and reports. Lots of late nights coming home and then all I want to do it go to bed!

Anyway, I've been doing a bit of scrapping tonight - missed it - and though I'd share this page I made with the March ScrapaGoGo kit. It had Jillibean Soup Journalling Sprouts in it and I layered them up with bits of twine and foam tabs and I'm really chuffed with the result.

Anyway, it's nearly ten and so I want to turn in. Note to self: post more regularly.

Kisses xxx

P.S. Wizard of Oz with Guides tomorrow. Bring it!