A Cottage by the Sea

Picture borrowed from Owners Direct

This time next week Dan and I will be preparing to head off to Saltburn-by-the-sea with my parents to celebrate their respective birthdays. Rufio (our year old kitty) will be living at mum and dad's for the week with my brother Mike and our old and considerably noisier cat, Ross.

The prospect of being away - anywhere - is exciting and we can't wait to go running on the beach and paddle in the sea! The cottage we're staying in is right on top of a cliff with the most beautiful views. Away will go the iphone and the noise that comes with living in the centre of Stockport, and to be honest I'm looking forward to that the most. Peace. That and spending time with the 'rents; after moving out last year I haven't spent more than an overnight stay with them!
Also, look how pretty!

Where are you excited about going?

Cherry and Marzipan Loaf

I'm head over heels with these sunflowers, taking them with me from room to room, photos of them don't do them justice! Yesterday I finally got round to using up some cherries that were cluttering up the fridge; I'd planned to make a cherry and apple crumble which went down brilliantly a few weeks ago, but I wasn't in the mood to get sticky making the crumb part of the crumble. I trawled around to find a recipe that suited what I had in the cupboards, which included a slab of marzipan which I tend to have a slice of every now and again when there's nothing naughty around, and I found the perfect recipe on Fab Food 4 All. I love that they've called it Cherzipan, although it's definitely loafish, rather than cakey. 

I chopped my cherries up a little more haphazardly and I added 25g of caster sugar in addition to the soft brown sugar listed in the recipe. Rather than slicing and layering my marzipan I rolled several small balls and plonked them in randomly so that they'd melt into the loaf and add a bit of a surprise. It turned out well and the marzipan balls didn't make the surrounding loaf too gooey, but just right. There's something so satisfying about making cakey loaves. My banana and cinnamon loaf is a little bit amazing, but after watching a video where a spider digs its way out of a banana, I'm a bit reluctant to buy them. Thanks Internet. Maybe one day the horror will subside and I'll get round to posting the recipe.

Cherzipan Cake

  • 150g / 6oz Plain flour
  • 150g / 6oz Butter (softened) or buttery margarine
  • 75g / 3oz Soft brown sugar
  • 2 large Eggs
  • 2 tsp Baking powder
  • ½ tsp Almond extract (optional)
  • 75g White marzipan
  • 220g Cherries
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • Sprinkling of Demerara sugar 

  1. Preheat the oven to 200C.
  2. Butter and flour a 2lb loaf tin.
  3. Beat the softened butter or buttery margarine well with the sugar with an electric whisk or cake mixer until creamy.
  4. Beat in the lemon zest and eggs, one at a time. (Don’t worry if the mix splits).
  5. Sift the flour and baking powder together and gradually fold into the mixture.
  6. Put half the mixture into the loaf tin and place half the cherries into the batter then cover with the slices ( or balls!) of marzipan.
  7. Put the rest of the batter into the tin then distribute the rest of the cherries on top and push them in.
  8. Using a spatula cover the cherries with the batter firming the mixture to the edge.
  9. Sprinkle Demerara sugar on top.
  10. Bake on the middle shelf of the oven for about 50 minutes or until the centre springs back to the touch.

One Reason to Work in a School


Seriously though, by the time each holiday comes round you really, really need them. This is something that you'll only understand if you've spent time working in a school. You simply won't get It otherwise. Children en masse are bloody hard work. Trying to focus children on learning is bloody hard. Working with over a dozen other women (inevitable in a primary school) is painful! Sometimes the desperate need for some testosterone is positively palpable. But, apart from the holidays, you meet some incredible people who buy you the most amazing sunflowers and become the closest of friends.

These beauties will be putting a smile on my face for days and days by the looks of them.

When life gets in the way.

Things I've been doing instead of paper-cutting:
  • Work: changing roles and working with a child with much more demanding needs that have required a lot of research.
  • Training to be a ChildLine counsellor.
  • Volunteering as a trained ChildLine Counsellor - that period of training was intense and if I'm honest I'm pretty proud of myself for sticking with it! Getting used to volunteering after work and even just getting there has had a huge impact.
  • Essays for my Psychotherapeutic Counselling diploma - drowning in them.
  • After school Art Club which has been interesting, helping me get an idea of how children develop their skills at different ages. It's also made me realise how huge a disparity there is between art and 'art' taught in schools.
  • Attempting to eat 'clean' and be healthy - haa, that's been a bit all over the place! Since hurting my back and coming out with a slipped disc in August, I've really struggled with my weight this year, for so many reasons but largely because I try very hard to avoid activities that are going to cause the pain to flare up - which means that apart from being active at work, the amount I exercise has become incredibly limited.
All poor excuses. I'm halfway through my first week of the five week summer holiday and I'm starting small, attempting to make changes to my habits and routines in a way that I can maintain when the Autumn term starts in September. Apart from dreaded Case Studies for my Counselling course and everything else that comes with that, I will be starting a Teaching Assistant course in September. I don't know why I do this to myself. Luckily there'll only be an overlap of three months where I'll be doing both courses at once. 

I suppose after that, the plan for the next few months / 2016 is to focus on getting healthy: sort my back out, exercise consciously and with solid goals, and mostly, get rd of the anxiety that I've begun to feel building up as a result of all the things on my to do list(s). I'm looking forward to making use of the skills that I've learnt over the last two years and honing those, rather than spreading myself too thin.

Oh! And to get papercutting back under my skin! Here's a little one I did this morning.

Weekend Contentment

With two weeks left until the end of term the countdown has begun! The summer term has felt mind-bogglingly busy and the weekends have flown by all too quickly, so I've done my best to stretch them out. Saturday and Sunday have been languorous and perhaps a bit too indulgent, but plenty of small, simple jobs have been ticked off The Never-ending To-Do List, and although the working week has rolled round once again, I feel ready to meet it, even if I won't quite have time for such drawn-out breakfasts.

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