Monday, 30 September 2013

September Goals Review

I've really enjoyed doing yoga on the weekend this month.  I had one bad weekend when I missed it but I did it in the week instead.  It's very low energy but I always feel great afterwards.  I plan to keep this up through the Autumn and Winter.

My lesson planning box is set up and sat on my desk at work.

I haven't sold any clothes yet.  It's going to take more time than I thought to list the items online so I'll reserve a day in the holidays to do this.  On the finance front I have started my evening classes again so that's a little extra money coming in.

We actually fit in two dinners this month.  One with a friend who we hadn't seen for a while and one with a colleague who we hadn't had round before.  Both evenings were really nice and we're looking forward to many more.

I completed two sewing projects this month - one crossstitch and one canvas bag on the machine.  I've felt very productive on the craft front this month and am planning to keep up the Craft Corner posts through October.

Our transport and accommodation for Copenhagen is all booked now and we'll put an itinerary together when we meet up there!  So excited!!

Sunday, 29 September 2013

Board Game Round Up

Last night we had friends over for games night.  With the wedding and holidays, it's been a while since we had one of these and I was looking forward to restarting my Catan campaign, however, when we offered the guests the choice, they went for Quirkle and Monopoly.  Can you believe our friend had never played Monopoly?! 

Of course she had a huuuge dose of beginners luck and won both games, putting the rest of us to shame.  Next time, I'm going for Catan but it was good to change it up a bit.

Saturday, 28 September 2013

The Saturday Update

Phew, what a week!  I don't think we have had a week as busy as this since we went back to school.  How we got through it - remembering that the weekend would come, after that it's just three days to the long holidays, and enjoying the fact that being so busy made the week fly by too.

It was a full week on the work front.  I went back on Monday feeling very calm and relaxed after a long quiet weekend of ticking of lists and doing yoga.  That lasted about ten minutes after I got into school.  I've had several classes sitting their first exams this week so lots of marking to do.  On Wednesday we had the big union meeting followed by a protest in town and then my evening classes began this week so it was a looong day.

My evening classes are both beginners this time which is new for me so while I think they went okay, I really need to work on my skills if the courses are going to be successful.

Our wedding presents from our John Lewis gift list arrived on Monday.  I can't recommend them enough.  From the day we enquired about setting up a list with them, they have been on top of everything.  We were worried about the cost of European delivery (it's free in the UK), but in the end it came to £9!!  I thought they had made a typo in the email when I read that!  Highly recommended!

I'm also enjoying regularly getting into new recipes and craft projects at the moment.  I hope I have the time and energy to continue this for a while yet.

Tonight we have friends coming over for a long missed games night and tomorrow will be quiet and relaxing before that last short week!

Friday, 27 September 2013

Project Life: Week 25

This week I had so many photos to choose from it was crazy so there is little journalling although I am almost through the project life lessons course and hope to be putting more of their tips into practice soon.  

In the mean time the only new technique this week is the self portrait on the yoga mat. I was impressed with this as a first attempt but am convinced I can do much better so watch out for those next week hopefully.

So far, it's all I can do to keep up with my minimum sleep requirements.

A lot of the photos are of Pete and Nico this week which makes a nice change, I want the project to me more about us rather than just me.

Thursday, 26 September 2013

Teaching Tip?

I'm seriously thinking of having this printed on postcards for my top set English group some time soon...


Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Recipe: Banana Bread


  •  125g butter
  • 125g caster sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 3 large ripe bananas
  • 175g rice flour
  • 50g cornflour
  • 1 tsp mixed spice
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • pinch of salt

  1.   Preheat the oven to 180 degrees and prepare a 1kg loaf tin.
  2. Cream the butter and sugar until light and soft.  Beat in the eggs, one at a time.
  3. Add the mashed banana, flour, mixed spice, baking powder and salt.
  4. Pour into the loaf tin and bake for sixty - ninety minutes until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean.  Allow to cool.

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Craft Corner: Hobo Bag

Over the weekend, while shopping, I spotted this little project just waiting on the shelf for me in the Tschibo section of Rewe.  It was a reasonable price and turned out to be perfectly suitable for beginners level.

On Sunday, while Nico was working for the election, I cracked out the machine and got busy on the bag.  Luckily, the instructions were basic and multilingual.  The project took between sixty and ninety minutes and I love the finished product.

I may well invest in some material and make more of these myself.

P.S.  I would have called this project a lined canvas bag.  However, the crazy multilingual instructions referred to it as a Hobo bag.  Even a Google search did not clear this misunderstanding up for me.

Monday, 23 September 2013

Teaching Tip - Lesson Planning Box

I'm one of those teachers who comes back from a training course and goes crazy carrying out a new idea with every single class I have, followed by forgetting the said idea and not using it again.

To prevent this, I decided to set myself up with a new filing system that I can refer to whenever I'm stuck for ideas.  I filled it up over the weekend with ideas from various courses and training sessions I have been on over the last five years, and plan to keep it up in the future.

It's great to have all these ideas in one place and they'll be accessible on my desk as of today!

Sunday, 22 September 2013

Autumn Decorations

Our Halloween candles and our new little hedgehog friend who jumped into the trolley yesterday...
So I was a little early in all of my Autumn praise early this week but now it is definitely Autumn and today, I dug out our Autumn decorations to prove it.  We actually have fewer than I thought even with our Autumn wreath, new this year, which is now hanging in the window, but hey, we have only been in the flat for two Autumns so far, give us time!

Our Autumn kite (just waiting for the opportunity to crack out the real one)
The wreath, which has now been moved to the window.  P.S. All the leaves dropped off this little project so I had to resort to stapling them on!

Saturday, 21 September 2013

The Saturday Update

How was you week?  Here it's been busy again, a little too busy really as we are both a little run down and in need of the holidays already with still two and a half weeks to go!

Anyway, not to focus on the negative.  This week I have been working my way through the Project Life course which  is really inspiring me and giving me lots of new ideas so watch out for those!

We had a colleague and his wife over for dinner last week which was really nice.  They gave us some good tips for Denmark so we finally booked our train tickets on Sunday morning and are all set to go now!  Can't wait!

I went to a seminar run by the union.  Things are moving along nicely on that front and hopefully we will have a more active school after the staff meeting next week.  Talking politics, it's nice to have some influence while nationally I have none despite the big election tomorrow!  To be honest, I think the system here is only marginally better than in the UK where I honestly wouldn't know who to vote for any more.  The lines between the parties are so blurred that it hardly seems to make a difference any more....

Moving was a productive week in getting lots of bits and pieces done in town and with the name change still.  I like having all the official things done so that I can focus more on the personal.

At work, we took part in the Weserhelden sponsored run / walk on Thursday which was a nice day out.  It was nice to have time to talk to colleagues and as always, good to see the kids doing something different.

This weekend is a quiet one as Nico has to work for the election tomorrow.  I am going to get caught up on that Project Life course, catch up with friends and family and finish my planning for my first evening classes next week.  It's going to be a mad week with meetings, new classes and training but just one and a half weeks to go to the holidays now!  

Friday, 20 September 2013

Project Life: Week 24

Another busy week for Project Life, lots of pictures and journaling this week.  

I like the colour scheme again, I like that there are people in the photos again and I love the mix of pictures and words this week.

The Lucky's scratch off map is in there, the trip to Thedinghausen at the weekend, the new bookcase and the start of the autumn crafts...busy busy yet again!

The Project Life course is still on my to do list but I'm hoping to get onto that this week...

Thursday, 19 September 2013

New Expedit

Last week we finally got around to going to Ikea with the vouchers we received as a wedding present from my colleagues and ordering this Expedit bookcase.

We had run out of space in our Billy bookcases and were looking for something a little different.  I was a little worried that it may take up too much space of the room but because the bookcase is open it separates the room nicely without taking away from the space.  It has made the room feel more cozy ready for the new season too.

It isn't full yet but we're working on it. I love that we don't just have books in there.  It's a great space for my craft materials and our ornaments too.  Oh, and Pete loves it too, I think we need to keep one of those squares open for him as a permanent sitting spot!

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Recipe: Fish Bake


  •  Two fish fillets
  • Lemon juice
  • Salt and pepper
  • Spinach
  • Nutmeg
  • Mustard
  • Four tomatoes
  • Gouda, grated

  1.   Place the fish in a baking dish and cover with the lemon juice, salt and pepper.
  2. Add the spinach, nutmeg and mustard. 
  3. Slice the tomatoes and add in a layer on top of the spinach. 
  4. Add the grated cheese in a final layer and bake in the oven on 200 degrees for 30 - 40 minutes. 
    This is one of our go to meals when we don't want to put in too much effort but want to eat something warm and tasty.

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Craft Corner: Autumn Wreath

At the weekend I finally got around to preparing this Autumn wreath.  I bought the leaves last year as an autumn project but was disappointed to find that the 'kit' only included the leaves.
I did a little research online and found some other examples with ribbon and I had this lovely red woven ribbon sitting in my craft box, just waiting for such a project.  It had been part of the gift wrap from a birthday or Christmas present.

However, when I finished adding the leaves, I couldn't get the ribbon to form a circle - until my lovely husband came up with some wire he has and I moulded a piece into a suitable circle and attached it to the ribbon.

I am really pleased with the overall effect and the wreath is making our new cozy living room feel more warm and ready for the new season.

Monday, 16 September 2013

Hello Autumn...

...hello dark, cozy evenings in the flat.
...hello hot mugs of steaming tea.
...hello windy walks in the park.
...hello Halloween.
...hello October holidays and Copenhagen!
...hello hot toddies.
...hello crafting in the long evenings.
...hello warm, filling dinners.
...hello crunchy leaves under the bicycle wheels.
...hello scented candles and incense.
...hello orange and yellow and brown.
...hello ear muffs and hand warmers.

...hello Autumn.

Sunday, 15 September 2013

The World is Our Oyster!

 Over the Summer, I visited my best friend in her new house and saw this amazing world map on her wall.  I had never seen anything like it before and couldn't believe what an amazing idea it was!  Of course, considering myself a citizen of the world, I had to run off and buy myself one at the first opportunity.

The principle is that you visit a new country and then scratch it off on the map (like a lotto scratchcard) until you have uncovered it all!  Of course, as a newlywed and considering that this huge map is going on display in our flat, I wanted to make it a rule that we only scratch off countries that we have visited together and I added a second rule that we have to have spent at least one night there - driving through France to get to the ferry does not count.
Of course, that means we have a pitiable tiny area of the map already scratched off - a whole five countries (cue debate on whether the UK counts as one or four)!  Anyway, number six will be coming off next month too and it just shows how much of a bright exciting future we have ahead of us!  Just like my friend's husband, I am now extra keen to visit Russia!

Saturday, 14 September 2013

The Saturday Update

It's been yet another productive week around here!

Last weekend we finally sent off for our Scotland Honeymoon photobook and it came very quick.  It's not perfect though and we probably won't order from the same company in future.  However, the couple of problems aside, most of the photos and colours are great and it's good to finally have something in our hands.

It was another full week at work and with two and a half weeks to go, the countdown to the holidays has begun!  So many colleagues and pupils have been off sick - the weather is changing, the season is changing and I think everyone is feeling it.  Nico was off one day and even Pete has had the sniffles lately.  We had parents evening on Tuesday with two parents and an older sibling - a new low point for family engagement in our class!  However, it made decision making and conversations a lot quicker and easier.

On Wednesday we went to Ikea and finally spent our wedding vouchers on a new bookcase - it's due to arrive anytime today so more on that when it's built!  While we were there, we got a new frame for a new little project in the flat - more on that tomorrow!

Today I am going to a friend's birthday brunch and then we are having friends over for dinner.  Tomorrow I plan to get a few more projects completed to post about next week...  Have a good one!

P.S. Loved this.

Friday, 13 September 2013

Project Life: Week 23

This week was crazy around here and it certainly helped me to fill this week's project life spread.

Most of the photos have been featured on the blog this week with the relaunch of the blog itself, lots of projects going on including the orange and honey cake, the elderberry cordial, my September goals, the crossstitch, the wardrobe sort out, muesli, yogalates and finally ordering our Scotland honeymoon photobook.  I did a bit of journalling too.

I enrolled on the Project Life course over at Big Picture Classes this week so hopefully I will find some extra inspiration for this ongoing project there.  I love doing Project Life, but I do feel I could be a bit more creative.

Thursday, 12 September 2013

Our Wedding

Leaving the hotel with Dad and Gran
 When I restarted the blog, I promised an update on our wedding and here it is...

The week leading up to the wedding was pretty hectic with family and friends arriving from everywhere almost every day leading up to the big day!  We had gotten all the family together earlier in the week for the Kranzenbinden (the garland binding) which is a German wedding tradition.

The morning of our wedding was just as stressful to me thanks to our hairdresser who was late and took three hours, leaving us running really late.  It was a mad dash back to the hotel to change and get to the town hall on time...or five minutes late.
Dad walking me to the ceremony
In Germany, it is compulsory to marry at the town hall, though not always on the same day as the church ceremony.  For us, it made sense to do it all together though as we had so many guests flying in to be there.

The civil ceremony
The room at the town hall was very small so we were surrounded by our very nearest and dearest as we said 'I do'.  The ceremony was all in German and very official but very moving too.  I then signed my new name for the very first time.

Afterwards we cracked open the bubbly for a quick toast and calm down from the rush of the morning.
The newlyweds!
Outside, Nico's family had arranged a lovely surprise as we all let off balloons to mark the occasion.  It was very special.  There were lots of photos and good wishes at the town hall before we headed off to the church.
Leaving the town hall
It was a little strange and certainly different to walk through the town as newly weds, followed by our congregation on the way to the church where more guests were waiting.  It was a nice chance to have a little chat with my new husband though and catch up on our mornings.

The church ceremony was beautiful.  We were so glad that we picked the smaller church building as it was the perfect size and the light was perfect.  Our best friends read for us in the church and we were lucky to have the priest who confirmed Nico, and who he is lucky enough to call a friend, perform the ceremony. 

Cutting the heart out
Our second pleasant surprise of the day was a big sheet with a spray painted heart on there which we had to cut out together with nail scissors.  Whoever finished their half first is supposed to 'be in charge' in the marriage.  Nico won...

My new family
 Then came the official photos...

Nico's new family
With our attendants

With our friends

 We also took the time to have some photos around the lake.  Most of Nico's family also married in this church and had their photos taken here so it was nice to carry on the tradition and we were really pleased with the results.

The happy couple
Later, we headed to our venue for the reception and celebrated well into the evening.  The food was delicious and the company was very good.  We danced and talked the night away.  There were also a few more surprises in store.

Nico's cufflinks
 Nico's Mum's family prepared a beautiful poem from which they each read a verse and presented us with a rose.  At the end they gave us a beautiful rose plant which is now on the balcony.  The poem and the sentiments that went with it were truly beautiful.
At the lake
 Nico's Dad's family prepared a sketch to represent the night we first met which was really funny and memorable.  We were lucky enough to have some videos of the day too -precious memories.

One of my favourite memories of the night is my Gran.  One of the most inspirational women I know is almost 90 years old and we had worried about how well she would cope with the travel and the excitement of the whole week.  True to form, she proved us all wrong, had a fantastic week and was dancing with the rest of us until almost midnight.  Yet more special memories.

...and they lived happily ever after?
We had such a perfect day with almost all the most important people in our lives.  The whole week was magical and the weekend that followed was nice, sunny and sociable too.  It involved the pool, lots of sunbathing and eating leftovers before we put all our guests on a plane and jetted off for our perfect honeymoon too.

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Recipe: Elderberry Cordial

While I was on a residential in Ristedt two weeks ago, the pupils went crazy picking elderberries.  I didn't allow them to eat them at the time - I wanted to make sure that they were definitely elderberries for one thing - the last thing we needed on that trip was a bad case of food poisoning!

Anyway, I brought the elderberries home with me and Nico made them into a lovely juice which I shared with the class this week.  He was so inspired he went collecting himself and wee now have two more bottles sat in our kitchen!

Here's how to do it:


  • Elderberries
  • Water

  1.  Place the berries in a pan in 1cm of water.  
  2. Simmer the pan on low for roughly three hours.
  3. Strain the mixture through a sieve (or a cloth if you don't like 'bits').
  4. Funnel into a bottle. 
We like to enjoy ours warm - perfect for the new autumn season.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Craft Corner: Cross stitch

I had planned a sewing project this month, though when I set that goal, I was thinking more along the lines of a project with the machine.  However, this lovely little surprise gift from my mum arrived in the post and I couldn't wait to get started.  

It's a Celtic jewel and it took me one evening to complete!  I loved the colours and it was the first cross stitch project where I actually enjoyed the finishing touches of long stitch more than the cross stitch.

I also remembered how sewing keeps my hands busy and away from the snacks!  I need to do more of this!  The machine will definitely be coming back out soon.

Monday, 9 September 2013

Currently loving...

...homemade muesli!

A perfect mix of raisins, dried coconut, dried almonds, cornflakes, oats - shake well, add milk and enjoy...

Sunday, 8 September 2013

Wardrobe Clearout

It's strange but true that just a couple of weeks ago, someone with as many OCD characteristics as I have could lay claim to this wardrobe.  Finally sick of wading through crumpled up tops, to find something that fit and looked decent for work, I decided to do something about it.  I knew I couldn't cope with another winter of conducting that morning search in the dark!

Although I haven't bought all that many new clothes in the last three years, I have finally managed (thanks to my lovely, kind parents) to move all of my clothes with me to Germany and the result is the chaos you see above.  I have been three different dress sizes over the past ten years or so and my wardrobe still contained all of the evidence of this.

It took two days of sorting, but I finally weaned out everything that didn't fit (excepting a couple of sentimental items) and everything with a hole or other irreparable damage.  

I learnt two things about myself during this process:
1. I wear way too much black!
2. I'm a hoarder.
Both things to work on in future.

The wardrobe was already sorted into sections (tops, jumpers, bottoms, dresses, etc) and there was even space for my jewellery and toiletries but it was getting a little cramped.

I'm already benefiting from the new organisation on a morning as I know that whatever I lay my hands on will fit!  It's certainly sped things up, and along with some other adjustments to my daily routine with my new timetable, it's really helped me settle into the new school year.

Here's how it looks now:

I feel better just looking at it!

I'm hoping that an added benefit to this project will be a bit of financial relief in selling some of the undamaged clothes that just don't fit any more.  There are some pretty good pieces in there.  I'm ashamed to say that some had never even been worn.  
The cleared out clothes
I haven't decided what format the sale will take yet but I'm working on it and plan to put half the profits towards my debts and half towards some new, well fitting, brighter clothes!

Saturday, 7 September 2013

The Saturday Update

Well the first week back on the blog has been a busy one - the start of September, two projects completed, another goal in the pipeline and almost finished with my latest classic - David Copperfield.

There will be more on the projects next week but I will tell you that they involved another new recipe and an unexpected sewing project.

On the work front, I finally reached the bottom of my work to-do list (the first time in five weeks!)  Even though my timetable is much fuller than last semester, I am feeling good about work - I have some really lovely classes this year and everything about school is feeling better and more comfortable.  At the moment we are looking into having more staff representation (a bit like an internal union, not something that we had in England) which is exciting too.

I was really excited to find this language learning website this week.  I am stuck into the German and Spanish sections and may try something new later too.  Unfortunately their English learning sections are only for speakers of French, Spanish, Portuguese or Italian and not German but I have recommended it to some of my more diligent pupils anyway.

We have booked our accommodation for Copenhagen - just four and a half weeks to go! - I am so looking forward to the break.  This week's goal is to arrange travel.  My guide book also arrived so I'll be delving into that, as well as getting more tips from friends.

If September continues as it has started, it will be the most productive month of the year yet, and I will be completely ready for the autumn break in October too!!

P.S. This made my week.

Friday, 6 September 2013

Project Life Week 22

This week in Project Life was all about our class trip to Ristedt.  The pupils faces are blurred out for obvious reasons but I think you can get an overall feel for the week and I like the kind of orange theme for this week.  
While we were there we had various activities going on, those in the spread include, the museum where we made waffles on an open fire, building huts in the forest, visiting the viewing tower, and the disco!
I'm striving to get better with tying the spreads together in terms of a theme or colour and it seems to be working.

I was spoiled for choice with the amount of photos we took on the trip and then I added a couple of appropriate quote cards to finish things off.  Apart from that there is nothing extra special for this week.

I am glad to be using those postcard 'headers'.  They only really feel appropriate when I have been away somewhere and so that is only the second one I have used so far but it really helped to tie the orange theme in.

Overall, I am still really enjoying this project and developing my creativity with it.  I plan to continue my weekly updates now that the blog is back up and running.  You can find out more about the project here and here.

Thursday, 5 September 2013

Scotland - Our Honeymoon

For our honeymoon, we decided to spend a week travelling around Scotland.  I had been before, and fallen in love with the beautiful countryside there.  My great grandmother was Scottish and I wanted to share that part of my heritage with Nico too.  He also has a little whisky hobby so he was happy to travel there with me and visit Oban distillery.  

Also, I sponsored a penguin at Edinburgh zoo as my wedding present to Nico so it was a great chance to go and visit the little guy!

At the start of the week in Edinburgh

Edinburgh Castle

The view over Edinburgh city centre

Taking in the view

Edinburgh city centre

The penguin walk at Edinburgh zoo

Awesome penguins!

Wedding present

A wide awake panda!

Roselyn chapel (from the DaVinci Code)

On the road to Helensburgh

The front at Helensburgh

The view from Helensburgh pier

On Helensburgh pier

On our woodland walk

On our woodland walk

Love this country view

The Firth of Clyde

Loch Lomond

Writing postcards

Loch Lomond

Honeymoon magic

A journey with a view - the start of the highlands


Fish and chips on the front

The view from our Oban B&B

The park at Oban

Lighthouse from the ferry to Mull

At Duart Castle on the Isle of Mull

Duart Castle

Duart Castle from the ferry back to Oban

Island from the ferry to Oban

Something new - scallops!

Doune Castle - set of Monty Python

Rained out!
As you can see, we had an amazing week and generally, we were lucky with the weather.  We are excited to go back at some point and next time, directly to the highlands which were our favourite part.