My father is the all time greatest salad maker. I know that sounds extreme, but I have never met anyone with such a talent for salad combinations. His methods may be…unorthodox (baked beans in potato salad, anyone?) but are always delicious. As a result, you will often find me hunched over the counter picking at the remains of a huge salad. It seems my inheritance is my fondness for polka ogorki… and salad.
Having said that, it’s only recently that I have started to dress my salads. I’m usually an enjoy-them-as-they-are kind of a gal, apart from a slug of olive oil and more balsamic vinegar than is truly necessary. I have now, however, really cracked a dead simple salad dressing and I thought I would share it here with you.
I love a good bit of antipasto and this is the heart of my (extremely loosely called) recipe.
You will need:
A jar of some kind of antipasto – sundried tomatoes, or my particular favourite, chargrilled artichokes.
Gobble up most of the artichokes in a moderately unattractive fashion, leaving a few for the salad. Reserve the oil in the jar and put to one side.
Peel 2 garlic cloves, and gently crush using the flat of a knife. Add to the jar.
Bruise 2 stalks of rosemary – dried or fresh, it doesn’t matter.
Add in a few good glugs of balsamic vinegar – I like a roughly 50/50 ratio, but after a few goes, you’ll work out a combination that rocks your socks.
Reseal the lid, shake it like a polaroid picture, and pour, trying not to let the garlic cloves or rosemary escape.
Reseal and store in the fridge – it should last at least a week, and you can top up with olive oil, fresh garlic and balsamic vinegar as you go.
It should take you approximately 2 minutes to prepare, using mostly what I assume to be store cupboard ingredients – forgive me if not – and if you’re anything like me, this time includes the time to eat 3/4 of a jar of artichokes!
Some weeks gratitude is a little bit harder to come by than others. There appears to be no reason for me to feel like this at the moment…and yet….
I’m really pleased to say I’ve been offered a permanent contract at work, which really is wonderful, and is also something I know I am very grateful for. It has just also coincided with a spectacularly busy and changeable period at work, which has left me on the back foot, big time.
As a teacher, you’re constantly assessing. Assessing your students’ understanding, their work, your displays, your colleagues’ work and displays, your class’s behaviour. You assess so much, and so frequently that it’s virtually impossible to not be constantly comparing yourself.
And I currently am in a ‘compare thyself’ frame of mind, and frankly, I feel I’m coming up a bit short.
When I was in Primary school, my Mum, for one reason or another, was given a silver necklace with a silver circle pendant. Engraved on it was the saying ‘This too shall pass’.
“Even the good stuff, Mum? But what if you don’t want it to pass?”
Even the good stuff passes, it seems. But if the good stuff passes, then so does the bad. So I can take comfort in knowing that a spell of time at work where I’m not particularly enjoying myself will pass. And for that, I am very grateful indeed.
On Friday afternoon I skipped out the door of work and said a jaunty ‘HELLO’ to a whole week off. I say a week, but in fact today I headed back in to prepare for next term and write about 3,000 school reports. But that fact paled into insignificance in the face of what is officially known as ‘Half Term Holiday’ in the HSGS household.
Mr Hello also booked a week off, and we kicked off the break by getting into the garden. BIG TIME. I’m talking allotment, I’m talking back garden and then we headed to the Kent Garden Show to pick up a few treasures.
Over the weekend we had a few friends over who brought their little girl over. This meant a couple of hours of delicious food, great conversation and an excellent round of the game ‘Off The Pudd’, for which no-one seemed to know the rules apart from a three year old. What a delight.
Mr H and I then journeyed forth to Suffolk, to hang out with his sister and her delightful son, and the only thing to somewhat spoil the day was that our clutch failed on the motorway as we headed home, so instead of an evening on the couch we spent an evening sitting in the carpark of a motorway hotel scoffing chocolate while we waited for a tow!
With a couple of days left before TERM 6 (I repeat TERM 6) starts, I plan on pottering around the house a little bit, finishing off some report writing and faffing around with my camera settings! I’ve also got some more seeds to plant out, and am looking forward to seeing all my new plants in the garden.
See what I did there? Almost like a play on words, hey? Almost.
Now this image would strike fear into the hearts of a lot of people, and I don’t think I’m being presumptuous when I say particularly a lot of lifestyle bloggers.
But to some, granted, this is an image of possibility. This is a photo of the entrance to our local allotments, and it’s one of my favourite places. I could be imagining it, but the air just smells fresher and cleaner here, despite what I imagine to be the huge concentration of manure within the fences.
Allotments do tend to look a bit scabby, often with greenhouses cobbled together from scraps. But I think they’re utterly charming, and the sight of people pottering around and being occupied but not busy makes me feel so gosh darn happy.
We’ve got so much to do on our plot, namely because it’s a) huge and b) steep and c) overgrown. I’m trying not to get too overwhelmed by it though, and am taking a ‘little and often’ approach to going. Last night I only stayed for 20 minutes, but got a bit more digging done and met my lovely neighbouring allotmenteer.
I’ve got my gloves, got my wellies and I’ve even got green bits poking up already! It’s almost as if I knew what I was doing!! HAHAHA.
Mr Hello knows I love a good fire. I adore this time of the year, when now that the clocks have changed, we have lovely longer evenings before the dreaded darkness sets in.
My idea of the perfect fire, however, involves sitting in the garden chair with a glass of wine, occasionally throwing a log in the chiminea.
Mr H’s idea of the perfect fire, is getting the incinerator out and ploughing his way through the vast pile of logs we’ve accumulated since cutting down a few trees in our garden.
This mismatch of expectations has long been a source of discontent between us, and the odd teary strop thrown on *ahem* somebody’s behalf. Does it make me a crim to not want to spend every evening doing something to improve the house? No. No it does not.
However, we appear to have reached a perfect compromise. Mr H runs around like a loon, brandishing loppers and waving dry branches around, and I sit down in the garden seat with a glass of wine and watch. And throw the odd log in the incinerator.
Since getting the car at the start of January, I’ve been getting a whole lot less exercise, and so last week I decided to remedy it by going for a long post-work walk.
Gosh the motivation to get out of the house after 5:30pm is hard to come by! I did, however, rather enjoy my lone walk – I wandered past a house I used to live in, walked my old work route, then up a bloody great hill which made me get my sweat on, but rewarded me with a magnificent view.
I spotted the sign commemorating the Short Brothers on my travels, the very same chaps who were the inspiration behind The Seaplane Works.
On my way home I trotted through the woods near our allotment plot, smiling at all the dogs and their walkers, before getting a sneak peek of our allotment. It makes me so happy to see – there are actual garden beds guys, and they have things growing in them. Crazy talk.
Now I’m on half term the plan is to get out and about a little bit more – I have plenty of seeds I can be potting up to germinate and a lot more of Rochester that could do with being walked through. But I suspect an afternoon (who am I kidding, a day) on the sofa, reading blogs and watching YouTube clips is definitely in order first.
Very soon I shall have lived in the UK for 5 years. FIVE WHOLE YEARS. 6, really, if you count 2014 where I flew back and forth while studying, but generally I don’t.
When you live away from family I think it’s ridiculously easy to become used to living life at a relentless pace. The years tend to be remembered by the immigration paperwork that was filled out in them.
2010 was The Year I Arrived, with my Youth Mobility Scheme visa stuck neatly in.
2012, The Year of the Returned Unmarried Spouse Visa (I’d used an old form that had been changed the day before I sent it), before getting the actual visa ID card.
2013 was The Year of Figuring Out How to Stay in the UK, and more to the point, did I want to?
What immigration delights will 2016 bring? It may well have something to do with an upcoming Referendum. (Please dear God let them stay in the GD EU – I spent an awful lot of money on this).
I feel as though I can spot an expat at 50 paces these days. We all have the same characteristics:
You have an intimate knowledge of visa applications.
You irrationally fear the Border Control at any airport, even when you’re not flying!
You laugh in the face of people who think they deal with a lot of ‘paperwork’ – they don’t know the meaning of the word until they’ve tried to decipher what in the world the Home Office is actually asking you to prove.
You smile and nod blandly when friends start reminiscing about a TV program they grew up watching. Absolutely no idea what they’re talking about.
You still think you’re quite good at a quiz but in fact have no clue about 75% of the questions.
You’re not quite sure if you’re allowed to vote in any of the many elections, but turn up anyway, just in case.
When you meet another expat, your first 5 minutes of conversation involved working out by which convoluted means have each of you managed to emigrate.
You’ve forgotten which friends know each other, only to be reminded when you’re greeted with a blank look from your partner.
You get the guilts from booking any holiday that isn’t back to your country of origin.
You’re not even annoyed when Skype automatically opens each time you start your computer.
You never go to School Reunions, choosing instead just to stalk Facebook photos.
At least once every six months you have a weird few days when you’re pissed off at everyone because they’re not your family and it’s their fault.
There is something quite unique about living in a foreign country that you just don’t experience when you’re travelling through. You end up seeing such a lot of the mundanity of life that you thought you’d escaped when you left home. But somehow it’s different, because you have just a tiny bit more distance – it becomes more quaint mundanity.
You have a marked card as an expat which can sometimes feel awful. Other times it’s a bit of insurance – I can always go homeif I want to.
But, all things considered, I don’t want to. 5 years in and my relationship with Ol’ Blighty is stronger than ever. At this point, going home would mean starting all over again, and to be perfectly frank, I can’t really be bothered. I feel settled and while I’m sure the next 5 years will bring plenty of events that make me feel less so, I want to enjoy this feeling while it lasts.
Long time, no blog! I’d apologise, but….I won’t. As the title of this post suggests, life kind of got in the way of documenting it. I’ve made peace with this style of blogging, and I hope you have too!
Since last we spoke, I’ve had a week’s half term (by which I mean, 3 days since I tend to work a couple of days during each break), and then have headed straight back into teaching, which I’m sure most of you can understand, is undertaken at quite the relentless pace. Ho hum.
I also had a suspected broken nose after spectacularly hitting myself in the face with my car door. It was dark, I was trying to check my parking, and was sufficiently convinced of its poor quality that I went to move it and – WHAM. Door to the face time. Noice.
In the spaces between, here’s what I’ve been up to. Clockwise from top left:
Super bargainous £4.50 hat from the M&S outlet down the road. Headache-inducing-frozen ears no more!
Getting my allotment on – after a couple of month’s break Mr H and I got the ol’ wellies on and trekked up the hill to our piece of earth. There are few things as good for the soul as a couple of hour’s worth of fresh air.
Work, bitch. I spent a small, insignificant, teeny, tiny (I swear!) portion of my most recent paycheque in the Body Shop last week. I wanted to check the wear on it, so pre-work selfies it was. Plus, let’s all agree that the eyebrows are on point, no?
I made a thing. A trial run quilt for a couple of lovely pals who are currently pregs. I completely and utterly winged it (shock horror), and to my actual surprise, it turned out rather well.
Planting seeds in trays – I’m sure there’s a technical name for that, but let’s not dwell. One more example of my current obsession.
Champs in front of the TV because broken noses hurt and being tired is laaaaame.
I’m getting….older?! The shape of my face is changing, and getting a bit saggier, but I actually quite like it! Another example of the Body Shop Fresh Nude Foundation in Yorkshire Rose. It smells really nice, and it has Aloe Vera in it, so my skin has been rather good lately! I also picked up the Fresh Nude Foundation Brush, which is seems to be a cross between a regular foundation brush and a kabuki – I like it!
Getting in to work at revolting-o’clock isn’t quite so bad when you get to see a sky like this.
My main man. Over half term we went out on mini-dates several evenings in a row, and it was double delicious spending time out of the house, on a school night, with him. We made a pact to get out more during the week once the weather improves!
The days are now becoming lighter, and so I am taking it upon myself to take a few more photos for this here blog, and even once coat weather has been banished, perhaps even a mini shoot! What do you think, pals? Can I do it without being totes awks? Not sure.
Hope all is well for you all out there in Blogtopia.
This January has, far more than any since I moved to the UK in 2010, been about hunkering down and getting through. I’ve really suffered this year from the January blues, which I think is a combination of being halfway through my academic year, not exercising at all enough because of the pants weather, and oh yeah, the consistently pants weather.
Admittedly, however, it hasn’t been all bad. Here’s a minute collage of some of the nice bits of the first month of the year. Clockwise from top left:
An extreme buffet of cheese, crackers, veggie sticks, hummus and scotch eggs. A couple of episodes of Graham Norton with my husband and my Dad. Say no more, agreed?
Heading back to the allotment after a few weeks’ break. It’s grassy now, instead of muddy, but a lot better than we expected after such a mild winter. We feared our hard work in October might have been in vain. Once I’m on half term we’ll start terracing!
Achieving a goal: 30 days without a drink. As I said in my Dry January post, I don’t usually drink during the week, but when I found myself in social situations this month, it did take a bit more oomph to opt for a 0% lager instead of my usual glass o’ red.
ENGLAND vs AUSTRALIA. The Aussies won, by 15 goals (CCCCC’MOOOON!) and an English player was sent off! Never seen that before in a pro game. It was a messy game for both sides, but I really enjoyed introducing Mr Hello to my favourite sport.
I’ve got plenty of things to look forward to in February as well – a week’s holiday (which is 2 days in teacher-speak as I’ll spend most of it in my classroom!), a couple of friends going public with some GREAT NEWS, my first V-day as a married woman, which co-incides with 6 months of marital bliss!
So here’s to a great February. If you’ve had a kind of crap January as well, fear not, we’ll stand together in solidarity and flick the bird to it. Then we can have a drink to celebrate! Yee-haw.
As I mentioned in my post on COURAGEworks, I’m currently in the middle of a course on vulnerability, created by the wonderful Brené Brown.
You may not be as into self-helpy stuff as I am, but if you are at all interested, do read on. I’m usually turned off by things that claim to have the secret to ‘changing your life’ or ‘unlock wealth’, but I am very pleased to report that this course promises neither.
This class is about “being brave, and showing up in our own lives”. It’s about recognising that vulnerability is the root of all human connection, creativity and joy in our lives. It’s crazy when you think about it.
I’ve always been an open person, in fact I think this blog is testament to that fact. There ain’t much I ain’t willing to share, to be honest, but something that’s rung true for me in the last lesson or so, is that being such an open book isn’t always being wholehearted and vulnerable. I’m learning so far to think whether the people have earned the right to hear my story, and what is my intention in sharing parts of myself. Maybe it’s time to hold back a little.
This certainly isn’t a way of saying I’m no longer posting here – in fact it’s the opposite. There’s nothing here that I’m embarrassed about or wouldn’t want people to see. But in my personal and professional lives, I’m going to *try* and remember the truth of being wholehearted and vulnerable, and live those values as best I can.
So, in short, the course is great. It’s thrown up a few questions for me that I haven’t yet answered, and that is exactly what I hoped it would do!