Sunday, 4 November 2012

Chocolate and Apple Coconut Macaroons

So, after making the giant chocolate mousse I was left with 8 large egg whites. My dad suggested making an omelette but I'm not keen on white only omelette so I decided some more baking was in order!

I've never actually made macaroons before so I looked up a recipe online and found this one. Only prob was, when I got to the shop they only had desiccated coconut which the recipe says explicitly not to use! I wondered what to do and in the end decided it might be nice to add some other dried fruit so they wouldn't be quite as dry, so I used about 500g of desiccated coconut, 100g of ground almonds and 150g of dried apples cut up small. I then piped some dark chocolate on top for decoration and bit of extra flavour. I haven't tried one yet but hoping the apple won't make them taste to weird! At least they look good!:

Update: sadly they did not taste as good as they looked. They were to dry and the apple tasted funny...=S 

Not a very successful first attempt at macaroons, but they were edible, not horrible to eat just not as nice as the ones you buy! I will have to try again...!

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Chocolate Mousse Cake!

My hubby did the Great South Run on Sunday after only two weeks of training! So thought I'd make him an extra special cake to celebrate! Not sure why I decided upon 'diabetes on a plate' but two tubs of double cream and 2 full size slabs of chocolate later I managed to produce this:

I got the recipe from this website, took me ages but at least it actually worked (only collapsed a little on one side cos I didn't tape the parchment properly and there was a gap) and tasted very yummy and chocolaty, and my husband liked it, so that's the main thing... Have to say though I felt quite guilty for making it after... Hope I haven't just shortened his life by a few years!

So, overall a success!! Well it took me long enough! However next time I think I will have a little more cake and lot less mousse! The mousse is lovely but just drowns out the cake. Also the cake was a little dry so next time I will use my standard fail-safe moist chocolate cake recipe (let me know if you want it!). Also I can see why the recipe says to make 8 small ones not one huge one, but I didn't have 8 ramekins and I wanted to make a centrepiece type cake. I think it turned out pretty well considering!

Monday, 29 October 2012

What's the difference between these two brains?

Just read this article, made me really sad and kinda angry, im guessing not all mums do this deliberatly or even realise they're doing it, but just seems so unfair, I thought I'd share it in the hope of making more people aware. Check out the link below:

What's the difference between these two brains? - Telegraph

Saturday, 22 September 2012

Got my first baby present!! =D

From my dad's employee's mother in law, very sweet of her, especially as I've never met her before, will def have to meet her now though and take baby too iA

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Widgey Pillow Review

So, been using my widgey pillow a lot since I got it, thought it was time for a review so far!

It's larger than I thought, the size of a normal pillow basically except a different shape, as you can see in the picture. It's quite firm though, much firmer than a normal pillow. This makes it great for supporting your lower back as well as, I have discovered, making it a great support for lying on your front - you can put your bump in the 'hole' in the middle. This is great as it had started to get very uncomfortable to lie on my front, I couldn't basically. Annoying when you want to e.g. for a massage, but now I can!

Finally, there ar several positions you can it in as a sleep aid. I don't find this quite as helpful as I feel I'd prefer something softer for sleeping, however it's still quite nice. So yes, so far I definitely recommend gthe widgey pillow. Has anyone else tried it out? If so let me know what you think below. I can't wait to try it out for it's original purpose in a few months inshaAllah! =D

Oh also I love it's red cover, very cheerful looking!

Sunday, 16 September 2012

What is this and where can I get it??

Or make it??

Mmmm I LOVE this stuff!! Had it in Turkey a few years back when my husband and I went for a week in the xmas hols. I remember eating this amazing lasagne like pie thing but then totally forgot what it was called so have never had it since!

Anyway the other day I was looking through my old photos and realised I'd taken a picture of it! Woohoo!! So now I'm hoping somebody will recognise it and tell me where to get it or, even better, give me the recipe - please??? I'll make you some too!!

If you know please leave me a comment below!! thanks!!

Friday, 14 September 2012

Samba, Salsa and Dragonfly Wings!

Had a fun day at work today (I say today but I only just got round to writing this now, it was actually two weeks ago, which is when I started writing this)! Well, didn't get much planning done for next week but trying not to think about that right now!

We had a carnival day for the new students to get them to have some fun and get to know each other so they had four sessions throughtout the day - samba drumming, dancing, circus skills and costume making. Hannah asked me to help out with the costume making cos she knows I like art and crafts, it was great, I got to know students outside my tutor group, try my hand at teaching art instead of geography for once, and tried making my own costume. I decided upon some dragon fly wings, which I gave to Caren in the end after she asked me if she could have them to wear for her 50th, I was very flattered she liked them so much! And they looked lovely on her. Have to say she doesn't look anywhere near 50 either. So overall the costume making was a great success, saw some of the students really working well together. Only problem was I didn't get much of my own work done, planning lessons etc, so I had to stay late to make up for it, but I didn't mind.

Anyway, at the end of the day we gave out prizes to the students and had a carnival party where they got to show off their skills and costumes! Well, we would have, if they hadn't all disappeared after 5 minutes! Typical students! Oh well, us teachers had fun dancing and eating all the snacks! It was a fun day and I think the students did enjoy it a lot even if they wanted to leave early, I guess it was pretty tiring too! But hopefully we've made a good impression on them and made them glad they chose our 6th form!

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Baby Wearing and Back Ache!

Woohoo I came home today (after a particularly long and once again frustratingly unproductive day I should add) to find two parcels waiting for me. Actually 3, but this post is about the other two.

The first to be opened was my widgey nursing pillow. Obv I don't need it for breastfeeding yet but I thought I'd get it early as it can also be used as a back support and sleep support. For some reason I've been getting really bad back ache for the past month or so, which is also why I decided to get a swiss ball to sit on at work as I can't sit on a normal chair without becoming extremely uncomfortable very quickly =(

Still hurts on the ball but not as much cos I can move around and change position more and encourages me to have a good posture. Plus it's fun to bounce on!

So, I will let you know whether the widgey pillow helps once I've tried it out. I briefly put it round my back when I opened it and leant back against a wall and it felt very comfortable so I'm hoping it will at least give me a bit of relief from this incessant back/side ache. Alhamdulillah I also have a very loving and patient husband who has been giving me frequent massages!

I bought the pillow for £16 off eBay. Opened but unused. Good deal cos normally they're £29. If they weren't so much I'd but one for work too! But trying to save money for baby cos I know how much I'm gonna need every penny once I go onto maternity pay . . .=S

So, the second thing was a lovely woven sling from b2boutique. I chose this one because it was the cheapest woven one I could find (wanted woven cos app they're the most versatile) that also looked pretty. It's called Indian Summer by Lenny Lamb. It came in a canvas pouch with a complimentary fair trade white chocolate bar, nice touch! I shall take that with my to have with my coffee at work tomorrow!

I tried it on and it's way too big. Well I did order large but since all the sizes were the same price I thought I may as well get some extra material that I can trim off and use to make a cushion cover! Does give me a bit of sewing to do but I don't mind that, or I could take it down the road to our local, very reasonably priced tailor (Kani's Sewing Room'). The material is not quite as soft as I thought it would be, I was expecting it to be more like a scarf or shawl than cushion covering type material, but I guess it does have to be strong enough to carry a baby (up to 3 or 4 years old according to the website) plus I'm sure it will get softer with wear and washing.

The colours are also different from the picture on the website, not quite as bright. However, this is not a bad thing, I also think it seems less girly than I thought when I ordered it, which is good cos we don't know whether we'll need girly stuff of not yet. I think it's definetly unisex, as far as the baby's gender goes, though I'm not sure my husband will be wearing it. Think I might order him a plain black one.

Well, I can't wait to try it!! But I have no baby to try it with yet, so I shall have to either borrow a friend's baby or go to one of those baby wearing meet ups where they have special weighted dolls. Oo or maybe I can ask my midwife, have an appointment on friday =).

In the meantime, I am very happy with my purchases for now and on that note I really should head off to bed as I have to get up extra early for work tomorrow to make up for my lack pf productivity today . . . . =S


p.s. b2boutique also sent me some cards with discount codes to encourage me to buy more baby stuff! Not sure I'm going to be using them so if you ask nicely I might let you have one.... just leave me a comment below =)

Monday, 10 September 2012

Back to 'school'

It's that time of year again, summer is coming to a close and new students are arriving to begin the arduous task of AS levels, little do they know they hardship that awaits after GCSEs! Still, sometimes I wish I was taking my A-levels again rather than teaching them!

Worryingly, only 3 students turned up to enrol for geography last week, but another 2 have been added this week, and usually a few more drift in during the first few weeks of term having being disappointed elsewhere or only made up their mind at the very last minute! 6 would be good, I don't really want more than 9 or the marking gets tedious.

This is also the time of year where I start to regret having barely done anything over the summer. Ok so I didn't do nothing at all, in fact, some would question why I did any at all when I was supposed to be 'on holiday'. However, the last minute rush of trying to prepare everything makes me wonder why I didn't prepare it in advance! I have 4 days left before teaching begins and I have half a scheme of work for one class. This week I still have to do 2 more schemes of work, plan a field trip, finish and print student handbooks and tutorial forms, get my red folder in order (ha ha!) and try to have some decent lessons ready for Monday.

To be fair this is my third year teaching geography A-level so I do have lesson resources from the last two years. However, having had no proper scheme of work or lesson plans and only a half hearted attempt at organisation I have inevitably lost or misplaced or forgotten how a lot of it fits together. Normally this wouldn't bother me too much, there's not need to be organised on paper as long as it's organised in your head right??

This year is different though. I don't plan to be here for any longer than the next 10 weeks and 4 days (yes I am already counting down days) before taking a rather extended break to, if all goes well (inshaAllah), to undergo hours of the most excruciating pain I have ever felt in my life (or so I hear), the result of which will hopefully be the tiny person who is currently residing inside the rather large bump that has appeared around my middle.... =D

In short, I am expecting baby Garcia this December (exciting!), that's unless he/she decides to arrive in the toilet at work as happened in my dream last week. Fortunately I found out we have a resident midwife at the college so I'm no *too* worried! Increasingly frequent comments on how 'huge' my bump is however, and how therefore I must be having a gigantic monster baby are not doing much to keep me calm and relaxed about the whole thing!

I am excited though, which is making it difficult to concentrate on work as I keep thinking about baby names and which sling to buy when I'm supposed to be planning... but I really want to try to get everything in order before I leave so that whoever takes over will have an easy a time as possible, and hopefully this is also help my students feel confident that  a change of teacher halfway through term isn't going to negatively affect their results.

Right, time for me to get some rest, I need as much energy as I can for tomorrow as I need to have a super productive day after today was spent mostly wasting time stuck in traffic or trying to stay awake while undergoing staff training that, after half an hour, i just couldn't absorb any more of (yet it continued on and on for what seemed like most of the day...). Goodnight!

p.s. this is the sling I've ordered, what do you think??

Lenny Lamb Indian Summer Baby Wrap

Friday, 7 September 2012

Sony Ericsson Xperia Pro Review

Finally I have a proper phone!!! After years of having one that could only call and text, and perhaps take a couple of blurry photos, my hubby bought me this one as a surprise anniversary/Eid present! =D (thank you husband!!)

I've had it for a few weeks now so I thought I'd review it to help others decide if they want to buy it or not....

One of my fave things has got to be the keyboard, since most other smart phones don't have one. I'm sure people get used to the touch screen but i really like having a proper keyboard, I find it much easier, mainly because I make far less mistakes than with the touch screen. 

The phone comes installed with Gingerbread but says on the box 'upgradable to ICS'. So a few days after I got it I decided, why not, and duly downloaded the update, which btw is irreversible. That's ok, I thought, because ICS is surely better than GB. However, to my dismay I discovered the keyboard no longer functioned as a qwerty, it had changed to azerty, i.e. some of the keys (specifically w, z, q and a) were the wrong way round! Argh!

After a little research on Google I discovered that I was by no means the only person to experience this problem, it seemed to be a universal fault that could not be fixed (unless you're some type of tech genius). I even spoke to Sony about it and the only option seemed to be to send it off for 'repair' so it could be downgraded back to GB - but then why did it say upgradable on the box??

Anyway, I decided I didn't want to send my phone off to Sony for 2 weeks when I'd only just got it, especially after spending hours customising it (twice I may add, once before and once after the ICS update). So I thought, I'll just live with it, and I got used to typing q instead of a and z instead of w...

Fortunately to my delight a few days ago a notification came up on my phone saying 'system update available' so I downloaded it and lo and behold my keyboard was fixed! woohoo!

So, the point of that whole story was that the phone has just lost a major negative in my opinion. In fact, instead of me rambling on perhaps it would be more helpful for me to provide a summary of things I like and things I don't, so here goes:

Things I like about the Xperia Pro
  • The keyboard!!
  • Great value (my husband got it new off ebay for £166)
  • Video apps, ie. youtube and iplayer work really well (on both wifi and 3G), have had very few probs streaming videos even when I've been on the hovercraft in the middle of the sea!
  • Battery life is great so far, lasts all day with me playing music and watching videos
  • 8MP camera and video, I've taken some good shots so far
  • expandable memory (mine came with an 8GB memory card)

Things I'm not so keen on
  • Not many cases available (however, I purchased this one along with some screen protectors, which is again, great value in my opinion, and looks a lot nicer than I thought it would:
  • Internal memory is tiny (less than 1GB), annoying to have to keep transferring everything to the SD card
  • The buttons on the phone (not the keyboard) are quite small and fiddly, annoying if you want to take a screen shot for example
  • The internet can be slow (weird since the video is so great!) but maybe I just need to try out a new app, I'm using google chrome at the moment. sometimes works great but sometimes just can't seem to load the page...


I love it! It's the first 'proper' phone I've had as I said, so maybe people who are used to something a bit higher range it might not like it so much, I guess I've had nothing to compare it to. However, it does all the stuff I want it to do - calls, texts, emails, internet, sat nav, watching videos, takes pictures and records videos, calendar, alarms etc, all for only £166, so why would I pay £500 for an iphone or Samsung Galaxy S3? Plus they don't have keyboards! Ok it might not have a huge range of pretty cases available and the buttons are a little fiddly, but I can live with that if I have £350 left for a holiday! Or, to pay my household bills... not quite as exciting but still a good thing!

Oh also, I decided to go with GiffGaff for my network provider, after having been with Orange for 3 years being tied into a 12 month and then a 25 month contract during which I paid them a ridiculous amount of money including when I was on holiday for 6 weeks and not even using my phone (argh!). I discovered that getting a pay as you go phone plus GiffGaff's £10 a month deal is actually cheaper than having a contract (for this phone at least, plus many others) and I get to have unlimited texts and internet, and I can cancel/pause it any time I like cos it's only a 1 month contract - it's great!

If anyone wants to try GiffGaff I can send you a free sim card with £5 credit on it so just let me know!

Hope you found this review helpful!

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

A Palestinian Breakfast

Set off just after sunrise...

Explore the local woods until you come across some sweet wild asparagus..


... and fresh za3tar (tyme)

Continue to explore the sunlit forest gathering asparagus and za3tar

You may come across some interesting things, such as this little millipede...

... or the skeletons of an unfortunate cow... =S

Sit down and check you have enough for breakfast, make sure you haven't gathered up any millipedes!

Don't forget to enjoy the view!

And admire the wild flowers glowing with their rich colours in the sunlight.

Time head back to the village...

Say hello to the neighbours on the way!

Time for some cooking!! Take 4 medium free range eggs from the farm next door...

And find a little friend to keep you company while you cook!

Finely chop some onions and fry in a little olive oil, pressed from your own olive trees.

 Finely chop the asparagus...

Then add to the frying pan.

Meanwhile, break open the eggs in a bowl and add salt and pepper to taste. Whisk them until the yolk and white is combined.

Add your whisked eggs to the pan making sure the asparagus and onions are evenly distributed.

Only disturb to turn the omelette over and ensure even cooking. In this picture it was divided into 4 and each portion turned separately.

Press fresh za3tar leaves onto the omelette... 

And finally, serve immediately with fresh olives, cucumbers, tomatoes, za3tar, yogurt, olive oil, palestinian tea and warm home made bread! you can even add some jam and chocolate spread! yum!


Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Masjid Al-Aqsa

Glory be to He
Who carried His servant by night,
from the Holy Mosque
to the Furthest Mosque,
the precincts of which
We have blessed.
so that We might show him
some of Our signs.
Surely He is the All-Hearing, 
                                                                                                                                    the All-Seeing.

(Sura al-Isra', Qur'an 17:1)

سُبْحَانَ الَّذِي أَسْرَى بِعَبْدِهِ لَيْلًا مِنَ الْمَسْجِدِ الْحَرَامِ إِلَى

الْمَسْجِدِ الْأَقْصَى الَّذِي بَارَكْنَا حَوْلَهُ لِنُرِيَهُ مِنْ آَيَاتِنَا إِنَّه هُوَ السَّمِيعُ الْبَصِيرُ 

This video is from a trip to Palestine with family and friends a few years ago. It was an amazing experience and I have been wanting to go back an visit this beautiful mosque ever since. InshaAllah I will have the opportunity to go again soon! 

Saturday, 4 February 2012

A Quick, Tasty and Healthy Dessert

Ok, I know I only just posted about the cookies but lesson planning isn't the most exciting thing in the world, even if it is on deserts, so I'm distracting myself on my blog again. Though I'd share one of my favourite recipes with you. Originally I found this in some type of Moroccan cook book, but can't remember exactly, I think it was using figs instead of apples too (which also work very well but are more expensive and normally I don't have them randomly in my house). Apples on the other hand, there always seems to be a few left over that have gone a bit soft, have a few bruises, you don't really feel like eating them but don't want to throw them away. So, what you could do is make some roasted apples with honey and yoghurt, yum!

Step one, find some apples!

Step two, peel the apples, remove any bruises. If they're nice fresh apples you could just leave the skin on for some extra fibre.

Step three: cut up the apples, remove any pips and the core (obviously!) and put on a piece of foil in the grill (make sure you turn up the sides as shown, this will prevent melted honey dripping inside your grill).

Step four: drizzle honey generously (or according to taste!) over the apples

Step five: grill on a HIGH heat (not low of they'll just go really soft and fall apart rather than roasting) until they look like this

Step six: serve immediately (they go cold very quick) with a generous helping of plain creamy yoghurt (I like Greek Yoghurt, they do a really nice one in Lidl, or you could get the Total brand from Waitrose, which is also very yummy, but it's more expensive).

Step seven: enjoy!! As I said, also works well with figs, or you could have a mixture of figs and apples... please give me a comment to let me know what you think. Oh, I forgot, you could also add a little cinnamon to give it some more flavour. 

Makes a great dessert, or tea time snack... in fact I had these today for a late breakfast!


After the meloui and mallorca bread I've rediscovered my love of baking and been inspired to try out some more recipes! So, last week and the week before it was time for some cookies!!

My first attempt was baking Cinnamon Ghoribas from another recipe I found on I have to say it wasn't as quick as it makes out in the recipe, but then maybe that's because I made soo many!! I think the cups I used were a lot bigger than the ones I was supposed to, I basically used a big mug! So in the end it took more like 3-4 hours not 45 minutes! I also decided to divide the mixture in two and make half chocolate, which added more time (my husband is a chocoholic so I thought he might be a little disappointed if there was no chocolate involved!). I also added a little ginger powder to the cinnamon ones (as you can see I like altering recipes to suit my own taste, sometimes turns out really good but not always I have to admit!).

Anyway, they turned out quite nice except I baked them too long (inexperience in cookie baking led me to believe they would be harder when taken out of the oven, I'd forgotten how soft they are at first and then they harden as they cool). They turned out to be a sort of hard crunchy biscuit, nice in tea, but too hard!! One batch was nice though as I didn't leave them in the oven so long.

Well, the next weekend, I felt like trying out some REAL chewy chocolate cookies, so I searched a suitable recipe and came across this one. Again, it had the cup measurements so this time I used a website to convert the quantities into grams - much easier! I decided to half the ingredients so I wouldn't be there forever (I had so many of the ones from last weekend we were struggling to eat them all!). I didn't have peanut butter chips so I used white chocolate chips and fudge pieces (bought some fudge sweets and cut them up with scissors into small chunks). I also didn't use ready made chocolate chips but just bought a bar of chocolate and smashed it up in a bag - I prefer this method as you can get better quality chocolate for the same price as the chips, and I like the way they're not all the same size). They were easier to make than the ghoribas as you don't need to shape them before baking - just put a large teaspoonful of dough in a blob on the tray, give it enough room and and it will shape itself.

Son mis galletas, que rico!

Anyway, they turned out great!!! everyone loved them and I had enough to take in to college as a reward for my AS students who had just completed their January exam. I was wishing I had made more!!! So, on Thursday I had a second go (couldn't wait till the weekend!) and this time used the full amount of ingredients. However, disappointingly they didn't turn out so well, they went really flat. Maybe it was because I added some milk because the mixture was sooo stiff, which was was probably because I didn't soften the butter enough. Oh well, everyone still loved them and they all got eaten quickly! But next time I know this is a recipe I have to stick to step by step. 

Unfortunately this weekend I have to make play dough for my students to make sand dunes, so no more cookies yet! Oh well, probably better for me right! And it's half term the week after so should have plenty of baking time then, woohoo!

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Teaching – What am I getting myself into?? (Old Blog Post)

So, a few years ago when I first moved to London for my first 'proper' job I decided to join the website 'Piczo' - it was pretty exciting being in London on my own, I'll have to tell you some stories about it at some point! I also thought it would be nice to share my photos etc, and one of my friends suggested I start a blog to tell some stories of my crazy teaching experiences (crazy because I didn't know what I was doing, which to her was rather amusing!). I've since abandoned/shut down my Pizco website because 1) i got lazy and forgot about it and 2) I wasn't that keen on the layout of the web page, I prefer this so far. However, the other day I found my first blog post so thought you (whoever you is, since I don't actually have any followers right now!) might like to read it! (please note I learnt a LOT from this experience, so it was actually a good thing in the end, I have also now completed my PGCE and NQT so I am a 'proper' teacher now! So please don't judge my teaching ability on this, it kinda makes me cringe reading it - I was really that bad!! But shows how much I've learnt since then, so makes me feel good too! Also,  I have since discovered that teaching KS3 History isn't so difficult after all!).


Teaching – What am I getting myself into??

Oct 2 2008 09:29 pm

x x EID MUBARAK EVERYONE!! x x                                                                                                       

I've been in my new job now since the end of August, and after hearing my stories (complaints) several people have suggested a blog, so here you go!

So, to start from the beginning, I applied for this job back in May sometime if I remember correctly, after I got back from my adventure learning Arabic in Morocco, but that's another blog!, ok focus... to cut a long story short, they were looking for a geography teacher - i have a masters in Geography, and although I have no teaching qualification apart from my CELTA (which btw I am pleased to say I got a B in, did it in International House, was great I def. recommend it) this was an independent school who did not require a formal qualification. Since they talked about training in my interview, when I was offered the job I happily accepted, good salary for an unqualified teacher.....

had a couple of days 'work experience' which involved observing the same maths lesson twice, a P.E. lesson, and a primary French lesson.... all very relevant to geography... the 'geography teacher' was away on a trip to Disneyland, but i came in an extra day and managed to meet him... (Partly i wanted to find out why all the girls fancy him!)... Very helpful... or so i thought at the time, showed me a few things, printed out pages of schemes of work for me, apparently 'very easy' to follow... great! i thought, cos i had been starting to feel a bit worried at the lack of any sort of formal guidance and the disorganised state the geog. classrooms seemed to be in... And the fact that I’d have to teach history as well (but...but... i gave up history when i was 13! oh don't worry you'll be fine! its easy! just do some preparation before you start. uhh... okay then! :S). so i thanked him and went back home to Portsmouth (well first i went to my friend’s house in Kent as that's where i was staying, thank you hun:).

Arriving back home, with not long before my trip to filistine, I decided to 'do some preparation'. How hard can it be? i thought... as i pulled out the 'schemes of work' ready to 'plan some lessons'.

Several hours later - ok what the hell is the 'Shark Activity' and the 'Internet Quiz'?? and how am I sposed to know what's on p.48 of the IB book?? and am I supposed to plan when i have no idea how long the lessons are or how many there are.?? ok... starting to panic.....

In the end i more or less gave up and went to Palestine (and had an amazing time i should add:), and when i got back was far too busy moving house for lesson planning. Anyway, i thought, i had been told to start work august 21st, over a week before the kids got back on sept 1st, so surely that's when the 'training' would be....

August 21st - my first day, a Thursday, i was told i didn’t have to teach history anymore (*sigh of relief*.... you'll be teaching English literature instead, you can start with Macbeth... *panic... panic!!!!... Ok breathe..... What the....?!?!*' (note - i did study English to GCSE and got an A, so fair enough i would be teaching lower than GCSE but still, it was a good 7 yrs since id read any Shakespeare, and that wasn’t even Macbeth!).  I kinda reluctantly agreed since at this point i was still thinking, its okay, I’ll just follow the schemes of work/lesson plans they give me, ask my mentor for help.....

'So Hafsa, do you know what you're teaching, which curriculum, which textbooks?'
*What?! Aren’t you meant to be telling me?!* 'uhh... not really no.....'
 *tries to disguise panic look like only slight confusion*

Ok next day will be better don't worry.... next day, when we have a talk about work etiquette and rules and regulations.... and finish the day at 11.30am... great but.... still no lesson plans in sight... maybe i should do some work this weekend.... but how?!

Next week was when all the other teachers got back, and as the week went by, i was starting to wonder if i would ever get any training...! i say starting to 'wonder' by what i mean is i was seriously starting to panic, which involved a great deal of stress and crying and considering giving up before I’d even started...not healthy!

To cut this long story a bit shorter, i realised i was going to have to just 'get on with it' and started doing whatever i could to get sorted! The first 2 lessons i decided could be 'introductory', that would give me a bit more time before starting geography. Also i spoke to the director who kindly reassured me that i only had to teach geography and nothing else, despite then being told by certain other people, but u can’t just teach geography! It’s not enough hours! You have to teach English too! You have to! You will! Yes but the director said.....  Apparently that didn't count for anything.... but in the end it went my way, alhamdulillah! I was becoming a bit more stubborn by now! i applied for a post as a 'geography teacher' so that’s what i was planning to do!

so, the first two lessons, which for most classes extended into three, seeing as how lessons were only 40 minutes long and the kids were often 10 minutes late. Introduce myself, play some getting to know each other games, go through class rules.. soon used up the time! i was starting to worry however when it got to the informal assessment (obv having no experience i can't remember how clever i was at that age, so had no idea what was normal and what was special needs)

*board* write a paragraph about:
·       where you're from, what it's like there
·       what you've studied in geog. before, what you liked, what you didn’t like
·       any interesting geog. trip/holidays etc. you've been on

Marked on geographical content and English (spelling and grammar).

Simple enough, no? well i thought so... but apparently not... the first few lessons not a single pupil managed to put their answers in a 'paragraph' but insisted upon answering in as few words as possible under each bullet point, which they numbered to form questions. I gave them either 20mins or 30mins to write (I’m teaching yrs. 7-10) depending on what year they were..
'i expect you to be writing for the whole time, so that’s how long it has to be' yet after 3 or 4 minutes i started hearing 'finished miss!' being shouted out. What?! I thought, what am i going to do with them for the rest of the lesson?? 'let me check your book....'
.... well of course they were done in 4 minutes when all they wrote was something along the lines of:

1) Iraq, its hot.
2) Maps, I hate geography
3) No

To be fair some of them did make an effort, and the next lessons to tried to make it clearer i wanted a paragraph of continuous prose in full sentences. Apparently i was being quite unclear before.... so I drew a picture on the board
'this is a page in your book, here is where you write the questions *draws square brackets with 'questions' written inside* and here is where you write the answer *draws big brackets covering rest of page with 'answer' written inside*. 'Write it like an essay.....' 

Somehow though, i was still slightly alarmed when marking their books (note - i have no idea how to mark, but another teacher gave me a few tips so that will have to do for now! i guess I’ll pick it up as i go along..... or something....). Apart from the one word answers, and some of them who had just managed to leave out 2 questions, in some cases my drawing on the board had served only to confuse further - some of them had copied out the drawing, and then proceeded to number the bullet points, answering each 'question' (its not a question if it has no question mark!! don't u learn that in year 2??) separately in-between. Others had interpreted it to mean the requirement of a big pair of squared brackets around their numbered questions and an even bigger pair around their numbered not full sentence answers. I was starting to despair a little... till i got to a couple of books which seemed completely blank..... What were they doing all lesson?? i saw them writing.... i flicked through the whole book just to check.... ah wait... what’s this.... 'Glossary' (i'd told all of them to have a contents page at the front and a glossary page at the back... to be fair i probably shouldn't have assumed they knew what those words meant...) so,

 'Glossary - Extended Writing
1) where are you from.....

Aaargh! i know they're Arab kids and for a lot of them English is their second language -  and I know Arabic is the other way round to English (even ive been confused before about which end to open books in Arabic) but surely, surely you would realise that if you write your name on the front cover, it follows that the front of the book if the first page from that end, the end where your name is, not the other end! Especially after being told
'please turn to the back of your book and write Glossary'- this is where you can write down the meanings of any new words you learn'.

Apparently not.

Anyway, having been 'teaching' now for several weeks, I’m managing... just.... its pretty hard planning lessons/schemes of work from scratch with no experience, especially GCSE level (help!!! anyone teach IGCSE Geog?! please get in touch!!!), i guess its  bit hit and miss atm... But I’m learning! And although i have no official 'mentor' or any training as yet, there are several people who've been very helpful alhamdulillah, plus some of my good teacher friends outside school, thanks guys! and there are some good points, its sooo nice working in a Muslims school where 'prayer time' is scheduled into the day... and the other day a little girl came up and gave me a kiss (so cute!), and one of the boys told me,
'you're a sik teacher miss', that makes it worth it.....:)

I'm about to embark on being head of the environmental committee (as if it’s not enough being head of geography already!) no but, i wanna do this, i said i would make up the hours anyway, and it’s the sort of thing I’m into.... well, i think I’m into it! Hopefully won’t be changing my mind any time soon! so, any suggestions please?

On a final note, a yr 9 (first yr IGCSE) girl approached me at the end of a lesson before Eid half term

'Miss.... i don't understand...'
'That’s okay, what don't you understand? I'll explain it...'
'I don’t understand anything in geography!'
*What now?!* 'uh... anything in particular you want me to explain?'
'Well, all of it, it’s so hard! i don't get ANYTHING'

*Ok Hafsa.... stay calm......*

And i may as well add, since this post is so long already, my last lessons were rather uh... disorganised have to admit, i was too tired to argue with pleas of 'please miss! Its last lesson! Can’t we just play games instead?! It’s Eid!! Come on miss!' yet i hadn’t really organised any 'games' to play.... so in the case of my year 9 boys... it ended up being 'let’s chase each other around the classroom with sticks’. Not me obviously, i just sat and wondered whether i should be taking the sticks away... which was around the point at which the headmaster walked in . . .

Saturday, 14 January 2012

Sweet Bread

So, I decided to try some more baking today! Last weekend and the weekend before I made some Meloui bread following a recipe I found online.

It turned out quite nice (although I'm sure it was not the same as the real stuff I had when I lived in Morocco). We had some with honey on and also some with our dinner. It tends to go hard quite quickly though so you can't keep it too long. It softens if you heat it a little though. Here's a picture:

It took me quite a long time to make as well but it was very therapeutic, kneading the bread and all.

Anyway, today I have spent most of the day it seems baking Mallorca bread, or sweet bread, as it's known in Puerto Rico. I didn't actually have any while I was there I don't think, so I'm not 100% sure what it's meant to taste like. However, I found another recipe online and had a go, here's how it turned out:

It didn't really taste anything like the one I had in Puerto Rico (according to my husband we did actually have some while we were there! I remember it now but I didn't realise it was the same thing). However, it was pretty nice and my hubby loved it and so did my friend (just took her some and to my hubby who was studying for exams in the library) so that's good. It seems a bit heavy to me and perhaps not 100% cooked, maybe i should have left it in longer... it's nice warmed up though.

Ok time for bed! Buenas noches!

Friday, 13 January 2012

The Beautiful Golden Orb Spider

Hey there, welcome to my blog! I've been thinking about starting one of these for a while, just as a place to post my thoughts and any interesting experiences I have or articles I'd like to share. Took me ages to come up with a name but finally settled for the one you see above - since I'm learning (or trying to learn) Spanish at the moment I thought something Spanish-sounding would be nice, so I combined my name with the Spanish word 'pensamientos', which means thoughts (well, as far as I know! I hope it does!), so it's kinda like 'Hafsa's thoughts'.

Anyway, I've been thinking what to put for my first post, and I had a few ideas but this morning I heard something on the radio that I thought was really cool. It's concerning the Golden Orb spider, which lives in Madagascar. In general I really like spiders, I know they can be scary but they do catch flies, and flies really annoy me! Also there's a surah in the Qur'an named after the spider, and it was a spider who spun her web accross the entrance of cave when the prophet Muhammed (saw) was hiding from his enemies. So yeah, I think they're pretty cool. At some point I will post the pic of the one that I found on my head the other night (which I did not find cool at all!!) but that's another story.

Back to the point, this is the Golden Orb:

Silk spinning spider

Notice the golden colour of it's silk? I never knew there was a spider that produced such beautiful silk, mashaAllah. This is what they've used to hand weave this beautiful scarf:

Weaving spider silk

They've also created a cape. Apparently it took 80 people 5 years to collect 1.2 million spiders to collect enough silk to create the material. It's going to be displayed at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London from January-June 2012. I might have to take a trip to see it!

Oh and the good thing is the spiders are not harmed, they are just 'silked' and released back into the wild.

You can see some more pics on the BBC website: