A Dedicated Follower of Fashion...?

Show Us Your Life with Kelly's Korner

This week the theme for Kelly's 'show us your life' carnival is fashion tips.

Well, I don't really know what to say!

I love clothes and shoes and shiny and bags, but at the end of the day, I just like what I like!

And my favourite outfit is still pyjamas.


I guess my major fashion tip is learn what suits you. Me, I'm fairly little (5' 5"), pretty big, have curves (go in at the waist and definitely go out where the hourglass should!), so there are styles I can rock, and others I should avoid.

Some tops making me look like a serving wench (would you like mead with that?) - gypsy tops that were so in a few years back, I am looking at you! Some are just out of the question with a décolletage like mine - anything lowcut looks cheap and tacky. I tend to get round this by layering, and often wearing two tops at once.

Same with bottoms - I've learned what works for me. Bootcut jeans play to my strengths. A line skirts are comfy and practical. Pencil skirts can look cute with heels. Wide leg trousers work, as do tailored longer skirts.

The two things you will never catch me in? A hyper mini skirt - have you seen my thighs? Those bad boys do not need the pressure of a mini! And tapered trousers - someone was being very mean when they decided to stock them in a 16/18!

So I guess working out what works for you would be my best fashion tip.

The others, in no particular order, include:

Own at least one pair of ridiculous heels. Even if you never wear them, the pretty will make you smile. My pair at the moment are patent and purple and splashed with jewels, with chunky four inch heels. Utterly impractical for my life, but oh so good to wear a little now and then.

A good winter coat is a solid investment. Mine was expensive and bought on (what turned out to be a rather awesome) impulse, but has lasted me three years already and shows no sign of quitting. It's my key piece for at least 5 months of the year, so I'm glad it's nice!

Instead of having lots of lower priced handbags, have two decent ones which you love. Why two? Well then if and when you get bored you can swap and enjoy the novelty....without forking out for another bag!

Work the supermarkets and budget stores....my fave pyjamas are Asda. My fave wool skirt is Tesco. My electric blue heels that are divinely comfy are Peacocks.

If a piece is in season (and isn't event specific, like a ballgown) and you haven't worn it for two months, donate it to charity. Someone else is bound to enjoy it more than you, and it means that if and when you do go shopping, you have a clearer idea of what is actually in your wardrobe.

Most of all though, my biggest fashion tip?

Do what makes you feel happy. What makes you feel pretty. What fulfils you. That's for me the essence of fashion.

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It's been a while...

...since I did a meme post.

So when my dear friend forwarded this email, entitled 'Getting to know you...the 2010 version' I thought I could do it here and kill two birds with one stone (so to speak. This blog advocates neither the bludgeoning of birds with blunt objects nor the throwing of stones)....I could answer Jess's email (I love your forwards by the way Jess - the funny ones always crack me up!) and also have so prompts for a blog post.

What can I say, my brain is frazzled. Work's been pretty tough lately and after this it'll be showertime, then back into a mound of paperwork and ironing. I always bring the glamour, huh? ;)

So here it is, friends. Feel free to snaffle this if you wish...I like learning about people, so please be sure to let me know if you do!

1. High heels or boots?

Heels, usually. I tend to rock a one to three inch heel most days (except when I rock my leopard print flats), as it makes me just a smidgen taller than most of the boys I teach!

2. What time did you get up this morning?

It's a Sunday, so I got to lie-in a little. I was up at 8.

3. Diamonds or pearls?

I like both. I own neither.

4. What was the last film you saw at the cinema?

Nine. It was....OK. Penelope Cruz was amazing and Marion Cottilard is gooorgeous, but the overall film felt a bit 'meh' overall.

5. What is your favorite T.V. show?

The three I currently make time for are 'Glee', '30 Rock', and the awesome guilty pleasure that is 'America's Next Top Model'.

6. What do you usually have for breakfast?

Usually cereal or toast, but now I'm working out more, I'm going more proteiny (eggs, meat, yoghurt, milk). Excepy on Sundays, when we have pancakes, or pastries, or porridge, or a cooked English breakfast.

7. What is your middle name?

Rachael. I like it. Even though my family are non practicing, I love how we three kids ended up with 4 out of six names from the Bible, and the one of the other two a name of an order of nuns. I tend to like Bible names.

8. What food do you dislike?

Kidneys! I just can't do them (or intestines, actually, as I discovered after misordering at a French Bistro once!). Oh, and I cannot do marmite - I check this every year but I just don't like it! When I was a child I used to eat it non stop - maybe I just got through my quota in record time?

9. What is your favorite CD at the moment?

I'm not really listening to CDs at the moment - I'm kind of in a radio phase.

10. Favorite Clothing?

Pyjamas! The uglier and the comfier the better!

11. If you could go anywhere in the world on vacation, where would you go?

One day I would love to visit Hawaii. I have always wanted to go.

12. Are you an organized person?

I think I am organised, yes. But I also love to procrastinate. Which can wreak havoc with the best laid of my plans!

13. Where would you like to retire?

Somewhere small and cosy, and if I'm blessed enough to have any, close to children and grandchildren.

14. What was your most recent memorable birthday?

Probably my 22nd, and celebrating with a room of lovely people.

15. What are you going to do when you finish this?

Make brunch for Matthew, sort some laundry, jump in the shower, make a coffee, then get to work.

16. Furthest place you are sending this?

If anyone in Antarctica or New Zealand reads this post, probably there!

17. Person you expect to send it back first?

Less about the sending as I did it on my blog.... wigsf might do it. He loves a meme.

18. When is your BIRTHDAY?

December 10th.

19. Are you a morning person or a night person?

Both! The time of day I can't do is the couple of hours after lunch...how I long for compulsory siestas!

20. Do you have any animals?

Two goldfish. And I am yearning for a cat!

21. Any new and exciting news you'd like to share?

Not really. But if and when I do, it'll be here, right?

22. What did you want to be when you were little?

A singer, an actress, a writer, a mummy, a teacher. I'm one out of five so far. :-)

23. What is your favorite flower?

Yellow roses, without a doubt. After that, anything cheery and pretty!

24. What is a date on the calendar to which you are looking forward?

I have several, with three in the next month....

Friday 29th January: trip to Manchester!

Friday 12th February: hlaf-term break begins!

Saturday 13th February: trip to Dublin!

Even more coming up after that!

25. What was the last thing you ate?

Pain au chocolat. It was gooooooooood.

26. Do you wish upon stars?

Every time I see them. I am a hopeless romantic and an endless optimist!

27. If you were a crayon, what color would you be?

Sky blue or scarlet.

28 . How is the weather right now?

Grey and chilly. But not snowing.

29. Last person you spoke to on the phone?


30. Favorite soft drink?

Does water count?

31. Favorite restaurant?

The bistro at Blanche House, Brighton. The nicest meal I've ever had!

32. Hair color?

Mid brown and all mine.

33. What was your favorite toy as a child?

My Raleigh bluebird bike.

34. Summer or winter?

After this winter, I'm veering towards summer. Grass is always greener, huh?

35. Chocolate or vanilla?

Can I half and half, please?

36. Coffee or tea?

If I had to choose, tea.

37. Favorite food of all time?

Italian or Mexican.

38. Do you want your friends to email you back?


39. When was the last time you cried?

Friday night. I was sad.

40. What is under your bed?

Boxes, shoes, dust bunnies.

41. What did you do last night?

Watched old episodes of 'Spaced', curled up snuggling on the couch.

42. What are you afraid of?

Letting people down.

44. Best quality you have?

I think I'm quite friendly and I try to be kind.

45. How many years at your current job?

1 term and a few weeks. I'm still a newbie.

46. Favorite day of the week ?

After four years of having to teach on it and suddenly getting it back...Saturday!

47. Positive or negative?

Positive, for the most part!

48. How many people will you send this to?

I'm bypassing that and putting it on my blog!

49. How many will respond?

No idea. Memes are down to mood, I always think!

50. Do you like finding out all this stuff about your friends?

Of course, it’s fun! (Nicked your answer there, Jess!)

Right, time to get to work. Enjoy your Sunday, all!

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Show Us Your Life with Kelly's Korner

Oh yeah, it's "show us your life" time again, and this time it's all about shopping, as we share our favourite places to shop. Now, I like to do some of my shopping in small, local stores, but I think there is also a lot to be said for bigger places too. And those are the ones I'll probably share here.

I'm not actually doing much shopping at the moment as I am working to be more frugal, but I figure a bit of window-shopping never hurts, right? This is what I tell myself, but it can be hard living in a place as shopping-centric as London!

For work clothes I love Wallis. They cut for a curvier figure, and tend to be really well made and hardwearing (and essential when you're running around after eight year old boys all day!). I get lots of pieces from there. There's a zebra print dress over there I currently have a bit of a crush on!

For going out clothes, I quite like Marks and Spencer. They also do great beachwear.

For jeans and casual clothes, I am becoming a Next girl. I have a pair of bootcut navy jeans from there that are just themost comfy things ever, and brilliantly are just the right length! Getting the right length jeans is a major find for me - at 5' 5" 'short' jeans are too short, but most 'regular' jeans are too long. Argh! But that's a whole other post!

My tee-shirts tend to come from Threadless, which I found a few years back. It's my go to please for cute and quirky teeshirts. I just bought a cute one, the funds from which, brilliantly, will all go to help Haiti ("Men anpil chay pa lou" = "Many Hands Make the Load Lighter").

Shoes tend to be a mix of cute flats and heels from New Look, or sneakers from Converse. Mmmmm, Converse....

Last but not least is not a clothes shop, but is probably my favourite shop of all. Paperchase. Just the cutest stationery and quirky stuff ever! I swear, if I could get away with it I would spend more cash in there than all the other shops combined!

So that's a glimpse at my shopping favourites - now to go read everyone elses! :-)
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Money off for marrieds?

Just me, thinking out loud on my little blog...

....and directing a lot of those thoughts towards one Mr D Cameron, Esq.

There has been a lot of talk in the British press this week about David Cameron's plans for a "tax break" for married couples. For those of you who don't know, Mr C is the leader of our Conservative (or Tory) Party here in Britain, and he is hoping to win the next general election and lead his party into power. He has an obstacle in the form of Gordon Brown, the current Prime Minister, and the Labour party, but at this point in the proceedings it's all about the big talk and the setting up of stands.

I must confess to usually finding Mr Cameron a little slippery on most issues. Whenever I read an interview or a statement, I find his central argument, his key points, ever difficult to discern. Of course, this skill is key to politics, but I find it especially in the missives currently emanating from Conservative HQ (and Labour, actually. The Greens are far more direct).

(Thing to point out number 1: I am somewhat of a floating voter. I come from a family who believe passionately that not only should you vote, but that you should be involved in the process and know what you are backing and who you are backing. I am lucky enough to say that in all the elections I have voted in over the last decade and a bit, I have spoken with, listened to, or written to whichever candidates I ended up voting for. I like to get my money's worth, you might say...)

But back to the woolly missives (which conjures up images of sheep arriving from far off climes with news, don't you think?).

(Thing to point out number 2: I am of the opinion that for the past several decades the arena I work in (education) has been treated shamefully by governments various. Endless incentives. Ridiculous expectations. An ingrained inability of the government to listen properly to children, parents, or teachers. And please do not even get me started on the central-government-body-in-charge-of-education-which-shall-not-be-named. In few areas are the missives and messages more confused and less helpful.)

So, missives.

Well imagine my surprise when Mr Cameron actually stood up to be counted on something. A "tax break" for married couples and families.

(Thing to point out number 3: I am so vehemently pro marriage that I have terrified my current boyfriend at not one, but three weddings in the past year by bursting into tears and launching into daydreamy chats about weddings and marriage. I adore bridesmaiding. I enjoy chatting with my friends who are married about the whole shebang, and watching as the marriages of friends grow and deepen. I thoroughly look forward to being married one day, if it's in the plan. This is most certainly not an anti-marriage rant!)

My thoughts went a little something like this:

"Yay! Cameron's committed to something! Oh, I wonder what the impact will be. Will he rob Peter to pay Paul, or is there a secret Treasury chest for these things?"

Such went my internal narrative. And then I thought, and pondered, and cogitated. Well, cogitated as much as one is able after a day of fiercely clever anklebiters. And I was left with one big thought, floating in a sea of wonders.

I don't like the idea of a married tax break.

Marriage, at its best, is a blessing. A wonderful partnership through which and in which to encounter the world. It can be the foundation of a family. It can be the start of a home. But I do not think at all that we should be giving married people a tax break to reward their behaviour / encourage them not to split. It seems a little crude and childish, and far too much of a broad brush stroke for my liking. I know of at least three unmarried but utterly committed couples raising families. Why on earth should they not be rewarded for their longevity as well? Why should a hardworking and awesome single parent not be rewarded? What of the single person who wants neither to marry or have children?

If Mr Cameron did decide to incentivise what he perceives to be "good" things, a big part of me wants him to be braver. Instead of narrowly looking at one small part of the huge web, why not look at the whole picture. All around the country people every day go to work (if they are lucky enough to have a job), or they look for work. They pay their taxes. They love their children. They would never dream of violence, or knife crime, or even fly-tipping. They recycle. Their kids stay in school, and go to Cubs.

How about a tax model that rewards "good" behaviours (looking after your home, volunteering, noy getting blotto every weekend and clogging up A&E) and that punishes negative ones. If we're living in a nanny state and let's face it, we are, why not reap the benefits? As the ghettoes of our cities sink further and further into poverty and a rule unto themselves, why not grasp the nettle and try to fix the whole thing? I personally think that this country will only turn around when everyone in this country learns the awesome feeling that comes from working hard and doing well. From making the right choice. From striving. This would mean a lot of things - to start with, many more schools (to provide more classes), and more prisons and police (to appropriately punish those who break the law). This, however, would have the benefit of producing more jobs, and with smaller classes and better prisoner to warden ratios and more police on the street, these professions would become less stressful, and more of a job for life (and of course, someone in steady employment will be a steady taxpayer....circle of life, innit?).

Of course, these are just the ramblings of a twentysomething late at night after another busy day at school. This is just me thinking out loud in the tiny study of the houseshare I rent, because I can't afford to buy a home anywhere in London (but that's another story), not a talented politician who has had one of the greatest educations money can buy, surrounded by advisers, and researchers. But I can't help feeling that with his narrow, "money off for marrieds" plan, Cameron has gone for a quick, flippant flick at an area that really needed a resounding slap. Could a tax break for married people be a good thing? Undoubtedly. But I soncerely believe that it would only be a worthwhile undertaking if it was part of a bigger overhaul.

Wow. I went a bit political there. I just needed a bit of a think out loud, I guess. What do you think, friends?

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Blue Monday

(no, not the song!)

It was one of those today. The sky was grey and damp. My mind was busy. The boys were fractious. The commute felt longer.

But now, it's half past ten. I've done almost three hours of marking, and finally feel up to date.

A glass of wine and a cosy bed are beckoning.

How was your Monday, friends?

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A haiku for (in)courage

Over the past few months I have become something of an avid reader of a website called (in)courage, set up by some lovely Christian ladies. It's got some great stuff on faith, home, creativity, friendship...all things dear to this country mouse's heart! I love the encouragement and challenging I receive from reading and engaging with the site.

Anyways, yesterday, one of the (in)courage bloggers, Robin, set us a challenge. To create more. To be creative. As if by magic, it was just what I needed to hear. I am, by my very nature, a creative wee thing, and this can sometimes seem to get a bit lost in amongst the work and the housework and the appointments.

An aside: I remember at my last job, we had to do these profiles to find out what things were most important to us as teachers - teachers tend to be "searchers" or "experts". I had a fair score in both those areas, but it was my "creator" score that was top by a goodly percentage.

Anyway, I'm lucky in that creative opportunities do crop up within my life (planning a lesson, making a delicious meal, those days where I write a good blog post)... but I'm also aware that making time to be specifically creative, to try new things or remember old favourites, would be good for me.

So Robin's post spoke to me. And her first challenge also prompted me to invent a new word (haikuise...). Because yes, the first challenge was to write a haiku. So I sat in the stillness, just me and a pen and a cup of tea, and I haikuised the following.

Here are my four haiku on the theme 'Winter'.

1. Winter warms the heart
Chills the body to the core
Stirs new depths within

2. Individual.
One-of-a-kind. Unique. Blessed.
Snowflake. Or human?

3. Icicles grip fast
To the thawing river bank
Against time itself

4. Slowly winter drifts
Away from greyness, ice, snow
Towards spring's embrace

So, with a slight touch of nerves, I click 'publish'. Thank you for the challenge, sweet Robin!

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Hope for Haiti

The events in Haiti have sent a shockwave around the world. The newspapers are filled daily with stories of horror and hellish, otherworldly photos (as well as stories of incredible kindness and love. A crisis can bring the worst *or* the best out in people). And I think many/most of us want to help.

A very sweet blogger called Jenny has set up a site called Hope For Haiti, where you can give money in various draws, and all the money will be given to charities working in Haiti. All of the raffles are due to finish Feb 13th, which means any money donated will be part of the second wave of help - after the initial aid has met the immediate need, Haiti will need funds and support to help its people, and repair its damaged infrastructure.

If you're interesting in helping, and in supporting this noble effort, please just click on the button below.

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On weighty issues

Show Us Your Life with Kelly's Korner

Yay! It's show us your life time! I love this blog carnival headed by the beautiful Kelly, it always gives me something interesting to write about, and I love having all those other fascinating blogs to check out! A bit of a weekend treat. :-)

And this week, it's something suitably January - Weight Loss Tips, Diets, Workout Ideas!

Oh brother. Have I ever got a tonne of stuff to write on this. You may want to grab a coffee (or a diet coke. Brilliantly, I first typed that as diet cake, which is a Freudian slip if ever I've read one!). I have been in a yoyo cycle with my weight since I don't know when.

Oh, hang on, I know *exactly* when. In year 7, when I was average size, but some bullies decided I was fat (ironically turning me into a comfort eater. Which made me fat *eye roll*). Or every time my dorm-mates whispered about me after lights out, because I was such an easy target, parents hundreds of miles away, and pretty quiet and docile (and therefore unlikely to ever fight back...). Or in high school, where in reality I was chubby/fat/big, but low self esteem meant I ate and ate and hid away as much as possible. By the time I got to uni, I hated the way I looked. I genuinely thought I was just the ugliest thing.

Fast-forward ten years, and I'm pleased to say the picture is more positive. Although I'm still large, growing into my body has made be learn to appreciate parts of it, even whilst decrying others. And I've managed to seperate fat and ugly - two words which for a long time were synonyms for me. I also have a far more healthy attitude to food - the reason I'm so big now is because I comfort ate throughout my teens and early twenties (seriously, I do not know how I packed so much food away). Now, I enjoy food, and when I do eat a huge portion it tends to be because I'm loving what I'm eating, rather than just senseless munching to dull pain or fear or loneliness or self loathing. I'm more balanced and aware, and that's a good thing.

However, with this new found acceptance and awareness comes a realisation that I am far too big. I'm lucky in that I carry most of my weight in "healthier" areas (thighs, butt, boobs) but I am still obese. Yep, OBESE! That word scares me. I guess it's also worthwhile saying that I can and do do many of the things the weight loss experts claim "obese" people cannot do...but that don't take away from the fact that I am way too heavy. And that even if I do have "heavy bones", there's still way too much meat on those bones! Using the BMI scale (Body Mass Index), up to 25 is healthy...up to 30 is overweight...and I'm at 36.

So this year I have said I want to get my BMI to below thirty by the time I am thirty... something which is going to require me to drop 38 pounds (or 2 stone, 10 pounds. Or 19 kilos. Whatever way you look at it, quite a lot).

I started in earnest two weeks ago. Way too earnest, in fact. I always do that, go famine or feast. So the first bit of January I cut my portions, burned loads of calories, didn't touch even a glass of wine...and promptly got tired, bored, and sad. So I then started eating too much and not exercising. And now I've found the plan I'm actually going to follow...Moderation!

(the ironic thing is, I *know* what I should be doing! I teach my students about it! I hope some of these ideas might work for me...and you!)

So here's my plan:

* Around three hour long (or more half hour) workouts a week. Enough to get fit and tone and break a sweat, but not so much that I am exhausted! So next week I have an aerobics class, a couple of swims and a walk planned. I want to have an exercise schedule that I can squeeze into my life, not something that takes it over.

* Portion control - I've done this before, and it's ace! WebMD has a great page explaining what an actual portion is,

* Plenty of water, and less caffiene!

* More protein in my diet - this is key for me! I tend to eat plenty of fruit and veggies, and too many carbs, but protein is the great neglect in my diet. Oh, and iron.

* Cutting down my alcohol intake - I'm already doing this and feeling the benefit.

* Effectiveness - this is really about burning calories or doing a little exercising when possible. A quick fifteen minute boogie while cleaning. Some crunches in the morning, just a dozen. Walking a couple of tube stops. Wandering round when I'm on duty. Thinking how to make my day more effective, really.

* Eight hours sleep a night. I find this sooooooooo hard, but am working up to it! I tend to feel guilty for sleeping more than six hours - surely there's work to be done? - but am retraining my brain on this.

* Rewards - every time I drop a BMI point (so 5-6 lbs) I'm going to give myself a treat (manicure, movie, DVD or similar). And I've made my clothing budget more closely allied to my weight loss - for example when I drop a stone I can 'release' some money for new clothes (hopefully just in time for spring).

* ACCOUNTABILITY! I have a profile over on sparkpeople, and I really cannot recommend it enough. You can log everything you eat, all your exercsie, buddy up with people, plan activities, and learn all sorts of stuff. It's a fab site, and keeps me honest!

* Reminding myself why I'm doing this, every day. To be healthy. To get more out of life. To feel prettier. And to buy more fabulous shoes. :-)

So that's what I'm hoping to achieve health wise this year. Expect happy-dances if and when I succeed... I really hope I do! What about you?

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In my activity session with my boys this term I am running a film and literature club. It's such fun!

Anyways, I want to pick a film to watch with the boys, to teach them about the basics of film-making (editing, directing, use of music, visual direction and/or animation styles (depending of course on what film we choose!)), and also teach them how to write a review.

So I need your help, please.

Which movie should I go for?

I'm tempted not to choose anything too modern, as the boys may have seen the films and fairly recently.

But I do want something fun and interesting.

(for me as well as them! ;).

So lovely friends....what are your favourite children's films? Which one would you choose?

Huge thanks in advance...

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Sunday Morning Pancakes!

So, on my list, I said I would like to learn how to make pancakes...

My lovely friend Riot Kitty sent me her husband's recipe for pancakes (thanks, man! :-)).

And this morning...I made pancakes. And they were GOOD!

Pancakes bubbling up nicely on the stove.

Yummers! (Please excuse the state of my stove and countertop - can you tell it's kitchen cleaning day today?)

Matthew's pancakes - with lemon curd and vanilla ice cream

Mine, with cream cheese and cranberry jelly.

Here, we are having a relaxed weekend, and trying not to be too impeded by the snow. London is due for a big snow this afternoon, but nothing like what the rest of the country is dealing with! Up north where my parents live, they have up to 18 inches on the ground. Down south we are bundling up, thanking the Lord for blessings such as walking boots, and eating plenty (but not too much - it is resolution season!) of comfort food. Later today Tara's popping over for chili and jacket potatoes - one of my favourite cosy suppers!

Well, work and housework beckon - I hope this finds you all well. How has your weekend been?

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"Be better"

Today, in one of our meetings, we were asked to turn to the person next to us and let them know what our New Year's resolution is. Now, me being me, I'd written down tonnes (see a few posts back for details!), but I tried to sum them up. And then, after thinking for a moment or four, the exact phrase came to me. This year, in 2010, I want to....


I want to be a better friend, and a better sister, and a better daughter, and a better girlfriend, and a better teacher, and a better blogger, and a better Christian, and a better Joinee, and a better person...I want to end this year thinking "yep. That's improved!" Whether it's big things or small things, I want to be better.

I want to make time to see my lovely friends, to email them regularly, to call them and hear their beautiful voices. I want to love them and support them in the exciting seasons they are navigating. I want to spoil them with letters and tea and time. I want to be part of my siblings lives, even though they are far away. I want to work hard, to really give a lot to my job, to see what I can get out of my classes. I want to help them love to learn! I want to be a good Joinee, and not be afraid to RAoK, even if I sometimes find it scary, or if people think I'm weird, or hypocritical, or stupid for doing so. I want to make my mummy and daddy proud. I want to write my life here, and hopefully provide some giggles and sunshine along the way. I want to save money and live more frugally. I want to grow in faith. I have to say, I'm loving making time to read some Bible each day, and having that regular 15 minutes with the Word. I want to pray and study and just spend plenty of time on this. I want to be healthy, and reliable, and strong. I want to be the kind of girlfriend that Matthew deserves, a girlfriend who makes his world a better place, who supports him and helps him to grow. I want to be kind and loving and hard-working.

And all of that adds up to me wanting to...be better!

Here's to a positive 2010! What are you hoping to improve this year? (not that you need to, you fabulous people!)

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Back to school

Yep, it's that time again...time to get ready for back to school. The Jekyll and Hyde-ness of my profession can be a shock to the system sometimes. One moment you are lazing in the warm bubblebath of holidaytime, wearing your pyjamas for hours on end, drinking tea, reading, and then WHAM! It's like you've suddenly had to plunge into a bath of icy water. It won't do you any harm, but man is it ever a shock to get back to the gridstone of marking and planning and meetings (the actual teaching isn't very grindstoney at all. It's generally far too entertaining to feel much like work! It's the stuff around the teaching that makes it an actual profession), and the dreaded 5 - 5.30 starts.

Dear God, the starts. Now, I tend to be both a night owl and an early bird, so the actual getting up I can do...but if I'm not strict with myself about bedtimes I can wind up getting not much rest at all. My brain doesn't often wind down till around midnight - and with a 5 am wake up call, that can spell disaster. So I started getting prepped from Sunday evening, and managed to fall asleep by 11.40 last night! I'll get there!

Other than planning and prep and attempting to wrestle my body clock, things have been whizzing along quite pleasantly. The diary looks delightfully full for January, but still leaves enough time for the gym, cuddles, and playing in the kitchen. I got the Pioneer Woman's cookbook as one of my Christmas/birthday gifts, and have been making poor Matthew's mouth water with plans of biscuits, lasagne, and steak sandwiches...

Speaking of the gym, the New Year's healthkick has started well, but the road is long. I was quite impressed yesterday - between the gym and dancing I managed to burn 1164 calories! If I can just do that frequently, I'll *have* to shrink, hehe. Today's total was a more modest 300, but I'm thinking that every little may help. Weigh in is on Friday, so we'll find out!

Right, time to go get my bags packed ready for school tomorrow, then an early(ish) night.

Hope your week is going well!

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PS Did an update over on the RAoK site earlier. Five days in, and it's going well so far...

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Happy New Year!

And so here we are in 2010! Did you have a good New Years' Eve? Ours was exceptionally quiet and cosy, then a simple toast to greet the new year. The year I turn 30! :-)

I really like this time of year, the time for resolutions and getting back on an even keel and thinking things through. After the busyness of last term (first term at a new school is always manic. Autumn term is always manic. Put the two together and you have craziness!), and then the frenetic awesomeness of December, I am so ready for some normal, steady times. I like normal and steady.

My new years resolutions this year are less concrete than usual - I guess it's more of a change of mood and focus, rather than real tangible 'things to do'. I'm in the mood for getting on getting better. So here (in no particular order) are the things I am looking to improve in 2010...

I want to spend plenty of quality time with the people I love. Dinners and coffees and walks in the park, and phone calls and emails and just being there. Sharing things. As fun as parties and rushing around can be, really what I want to be able to say at the end of 2010 is "wow, I had such fun with my friends this year!".

I've been saying for ages that I want to do some dancing, just to start a class and see what happens. Next week I'm joining Pineapple Studios for a trial month to see if I can do some Jazz, and I might try out the RnB class at my gym too! I'm also going clubbing more - Club de Fromage is always great (Anna and Vixie, let's go!)!

I love blogging. I'm hoping to do more of it. And when I retrieve my camera from school (I always end up taking it into school to take pictures for class then leave it there!), I really really want to add more pictures (so you can all see more of my beautiful friends!). I'm also going to have great fun taking part in Kelly's awesome 'Show Us Your Life' Fridays - I am so excited for these! Added to these things, I'm also going to chnage my blog list - get rid of some links that never update, add some new blogs I've discovered, and generally tidy up!

I want to write loads of letters! I say this every year and I achieve it (more or less) every year. I love letters and mail! (If you'd like a postcard and I don't have your address...let a girl know! :-))

I want to read more, and watch more movies. I've actually banned myself from buying more books or DVDs until I've worked through the ones already on my shelves! I have so many to enjoy already, now I need to get on with it!

This year I am going to read the Bible. I've got a really neat Chronological Bible, which breaks things down into daily readings over the whole year. I looking forward to reading this all and enjoying it and learning more about my faith.

This year I am also embracing a new frugality. As I have mentioned before, I was spoiled rotten over my birthday and Christmas, and now have shelves laden with toiletries and books and similar. And I have loads of clothes and bags and shiny too. I'm going to work through these, and sort things too - if I don't want or need something, could a friend use it? Could I donate it to charity? Or put it on freecycle? I'm also seriously working on my budgeting - Matthew is highly amused by my spreadsheets and to do lists, but I'm quite proud of them and I hope that I can stick to them. I work hard, and I want to use my money well. I still want to have fun, but I'm going to try to be more wise with my money. That way I can manage my credit and build my savings, and also afford nice things like holidays and jetting off to bridesmaid! :-) This is also a long term goal - if I ever want to own a home, or get married, or have children (all things I *do* want to do in the next five years), I need to have money saved, and also be able to live well within my means.

Coupled with this is a desire to get sorted and organised, both at home and at work. Just as I want to be more intelligent in how I use my money, I also want to look at how I invest my time. I've got better and better with my time management in recent years - could this be a year to take it to a new level?

I'm also keen to get my weight under control. My main ambition is to take my weight down from the 'obese' to the 'overweight' category. I haven't been in this category for over ten years! It's definitely time. I have a gym membership (which I've already paid for too, so it fits in with the new frugality ;)), and I'm not afraid to use it. I'm also signed up on sparkpeople and hope to use this well.

I'm continuing to work on The List!

I want to continue to work on my homemaking. I love to cook and bake, I'm good at housework (for real. And I quite enjoy it too, except when I have to clean up after people it's not my job to clean up after!). I'm getting better at budgeting and shopping wisely and meal planning. Heck, I'm even going to learn how to sew soon... I think these skills are worthwhile.

Above all of these, however, the thing I want to do most of all is just be as loving and kind and giving as I can be. To be the best friend and daughter and sister and teacher and girlfriend possible. People are the most important thing in my life, and I want to make sure I prioritise the people I love throughout this year. I also want to work hard on RAoK365, and put a little more kindness out there in 2010.

Yep, I'm looking forward to this year. :-)

What are your resolutions for 2010?

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