Tuesday, 9 June 2015

New beginnings

I've been working on getting things ready over on the new housefulofboys blog and, although I don't have everything quite how I want it yet, I think it's time to make the switch.




The new blog can be found at lifeinmyhousefulofboys.com


I'd love it if you could all follow me on over there and follow that one in whichever way you used to follow this one - blogger, bloglovin, email, rss...


Although I won't be posting on this blog any more, I will be keeping it open. I'm still in the process of linking from my new blog to all the recipes on this one and I'm sure there will be plenty more links to other posts on here too.


I've updated the about section on the new blog, added the links for the eczema & allergy posts and posts have started with a look at Alasdair's 6th birthday last week.


So what are you waiting for?! Come on over and say 'hi'!






Monday, 1 June 2015

Blogiversary Makeover

Next month it will be 5 years since I started writing my blog.


5 years!


5 years since I wrote that very first post and wondered if anyone would be remotely interested in what I had to say!


In that time I've taught myself to crochet and shared my numerous makes with you all.


There have been hundreds of cakes baked and quite a few recipes shared.


The boys - then 10, 7, 4 & 1 - have all grown and changed so much in those five years, and of course there is also now the littlest man as well.


There are so many reasons that I'm glad I started writing my blog. Not only do I have a great record of what has been happening in our house over the last five years, but I have also made so many lovely friends from all across the globe.

As a result of blogging for 5 years, I have just about used up all of my available free storage space with Google, and that's why things have been kind of quiet on here lately.


I've been weighing up my options about what to do next.


I could pay Google for extra storage or I could start afresh with a new blog and a whole new vat of storage.


Although I wasn't keen on paying a monthly fee for extra storage, I also wasn't keen on starting another blog as I've built up so much readership and 'brand identity' with this one.


But I've made my decision and I'm excited about it.


There's going to be a new blog with the same name! I've got my dot.com and linked it all up.


Now I'm working on getting a pretty new look for the new blog. This is what's taking my time up just now as I'm a bit of a perfectionist! I'm aiming for a look that's simple and neutral - so many blog templates are just too girly and it just doesn't seem right to be blogging about life with boys on a pink or flowery blog! I'm looking for something with all my social media share icons on it and that I can continue to customise myself.


I'm just about certain that I've found the design I want and I'm hoping that this week I can get everything set up.


If you follow me by social media then you won't have to make any changes to how you find me. If you follow by blogger, bloglovin, rss or email then I will add links to the new blog once everything is up and running. This blog will still be here. I'll be adding links to old recipes, as well as redoing and updating them. I'll also be linking to all my articles about eczema and allergies.


And finally, as a thank you for all you lovely readers who take the time to read my posts, comment, like and share, I'm organising a giveaway to coincide with my 5 year blogiversary and new blog launch. Just watch this space!


Told you it was exciting!

Monday, 18 May 2015

Make it Monday - Gluten Free Playdough Recipe

Last week we were experimenting with a couple of free from Playdough recipes.


Alasdair (5) loves to play with playdough but shop-bought Playdough really irritates the eczema on his hands. Apparently the Playdough brand contains wheat, which must be part of the reason for the irritation, and is also not ideal now that Fraser (1) has started to enjoy discovering Playdough. Not only does the manufactured stuff irritate his hands too, but he is still rather tempted to have a little taste of it here and there!


So homemade has been the better option to suit those sore hands and tempted taste buds.


The first recipe we tried out was pleasant enough.

It used:

3/4 cup Doves Farm Gluten Free Flour

3/4 cup cornflour

3/4 cup salt

1 tbsp cream of tartar

2 tsp vegetable oil

1 1/2 cup warm water

Food colouring of your choice

It was easy to make, just put everything in a pan and mix over a medium heat until it forms a ball then cool it down, and it made a suitably squishy dough.


Fraser and his friend Batman had plenty fun with it, and it didn't result in any itchy hands.




Because it's gluten free it doesn't have quite the same stretch as a Playdough made with wheat flour, but that doesn't stop it from being fun to play with, as you can see above!
The only thing I wasn't so keen on with this recipe was that it does leave a sort of coating on your hands after playing with it for a while.
So I tried out another recipe, and added some mint essence to it as it seemed to suit such a white dough.


It uses

1 cup cornflour

1/2 cup salt

1 tbsp oil

1 tbsp cream of tartar

1 cup warm water

1 tsp mint essence


Again, add everything to a pan and mix together over a medium heat until it comes together in a ball. It won't take long!


This one was our favourite of the two. It is softer and squishier than the other one. The mint seems to make it even more tactile, and a bit more tempting to little tastebuds - although one lick of the salty dough soon puts a stop to that!


Keep the dough wrapped in cling film or an airtight tub when not being used and it is supposed to last for weeks.


It's been just the thing for keeping little hands entertained in this horribly rainy weather!

Monday, 11 May 2015

Make it Monday - Using up the stash

I mentioned last week that I have a couple of new crochet projects on the go.


When I finished the big stripey blanket I had little bits of each of the 16 colours leftover and I decided I would try and use them up.


First of all I thought about making granny squares out of a random order of the colours but that idea didn't really grab me. Then I remembered my old favourite, the Maybelle Flower Square (pattern here). I decided I would make the flowers out of each of the colours and frame them all in a neutral colour.









I'm really pleased with how the first few are looking.


I have no idea how big this blanket will be as I'm restricting myself to only using the colours left over from the stripey blanket, plus the new neutral one. I haven't made the flowers out of all the colours yet, and the ones I have made here haven't used up all of those colours yet either so I'm just going to see how it goes!



My second project is one I've been desperate to start for a while and one I promised myself that I would start once my stripey blanket was done. You can read all about the Nordic Shawl here, as well as buy the pattern.
This is how much I have made so far, using the same neutral shade - Stylecraft Special DK in Parchment - that I am using for the flower squares.



It's looking quite plain at the moment but look how pretty it is once the colours are added!



I think it will be the perfect shawl for a Scottish summer!


Friday, 8 May 2015

Things I'm loving...

Some of the simple things I've loved this week.


Calum (12) had a history project to do. His class were told to think of a question about anything in history and then to find out what they could to answer their question. Calum decided to use his love of food and his interest in the Second World War to find out more about rationing.


He drew up this poster with the facts he had learned on it...


...and also made up a booklet of war time recipes.




We were chatting about what a week's rations would be like for our family and I suggested how interesting it would be to see how we would get by on them for a week at some point. Calum agreed that he would like to try this, although I'm not sure what all the others would say!
Which leads me on to this.


Probably not something we would eat a lot of if we were trying to stick to a war time ration experiment!
It's Nigella's Sour Cream and Chocolate Cake and I fancied making it when I saw we had some sour cream left after having chilli and tacos one night.
It was indeed as good as it looks. And since it wasn't suitable for the allergy boys, well, there was all the more for me. Which perhaps wasn't such a good thing!
David (9) takes great pride in his appearance and always styles his hair each morning. One day he decided to do five year old Ally's for him too.


Suddenly he looked so much older!


We've enjoyed hot chocolate, cake and juice at the garden centre this week.





It was a week where our dinner menu included James' favourite homemade steak pie.
It's been a week where Spring is still keeping away, and where outside play has been grabbed between the rain showers.
David made this train for Ally and Fraser (1) out of the go cart and toy car, then pulled them around in it for ages.


It was a happy new shoe week for me. Red ones, of course.
There's been the usual amount of music going on in the house, with Fraser wanting in on the action too!


And finally, how could I let this week go by without mentioning this week's General Election results!


What a result it was, and what a big thing to happen in Scottish politics! I've found myself far more interested in this election than any previous ones (except for the Independence Referendum) and was almost tempted to stay up till all hours last night watching the results come in, alongside my husband who always stays up for them. My sensible head took over and I headed to bed by 1230am while my hubs stayed up until around 5am - he was nice and cosy though, with a certain new crochet blanket wrapped around him!

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

Makings - Attic 24 Cosy CAL Blanket Ta-Da!

Let's go back to the beginning of this blanket again, shall we?


Just so I can document its growth from the start.


First of all rewind back to Christmas and the present from my shopping-hating sister in law. For those who may have missed an earlier post, each year she asks for links of what we would like for Christmas. Since I couldn't think of anything I wanted other than yarn, I sent her the link to the yarn pack for the Attic 24 Cosy blanket from Wool Warehouse, which you can find here.


Once all the Christmas festivities were over I made a start on the blanket in the first week of January.


The pattern, complete with picture tutorials, can be found here on Lucy's Attic 24 blog. It's called the Cosy CAL blanket as back in the autumn Lucy had a crochet along to make it.


It is such a straightforward pattern that it didn't take long to get into the rhythm of each row.


And was even manageable with a sleeping baby in arms.


There are 16 different colours in the blanket and the completed blanket has 6 repeats of each colour, although not in the same order each time.
This was after about one and a half repeats.




The colours, as I've said so often when I've shared a picture of this blanket, are so bright and cheerful. The perfect sort of thing to be working on in the darkest, greyest months of the year.


A few more colour repeats in...




Right from the start it has been attracting little boys to climb over it or roll around wrapped up in it.


Of course, crochet hooks and balls of yarn are also tempting to play with!


Over the course of three months the blanket grew and grew.


Then when we were away on our Easter holidays I completed the main part of it.


Isn't it big?!


And even more appealing to little boys!


Next job was sewing in all those ends.
Some people like to do them as they go along but I like the satisfaction of seeing them all sewn in at the same time.


Look at those happy colours!




Once the ends were dealt with it was time to add the border.


I followed the colour order from the Attic 24 CAL posts exactly for the blanket, but I wasn't so keen on the four colours used for the border of that one. There was nothing wrong with the colours themselves, just that the final round gives a strong feeling to the blanket and the final round on the tutorial was green. Green isn't one of my favourite colours and so I finished my border off with a round of blue.


I love those spiky little stitches round the edge.


Here's another look at those happy colours...


...and for another sense of scale, here is the blanket laid out on our king sized bed.


It's such a generous size and the yarn is so soft and snuggly. Stylecraft Special is definitely my new favourite yarn to work with. I already have my next two projects on the go, both using Stylecraft. One of them is using up the scraps of colour left over from this blanket, the other is something I've been wanting to make for a while and that I promised myself I would make once this blanket was made.
But this post is all about the blanket, which now lives across the back of one of our sofas, and is big enough for quite a few people to snuggle under of an evening watching a movie, or reading a book or just snuggling up under on a lazy Sunday afternoon.
And if you thought the blanket was beautiful on its own, now add a sleeping baby to the picture and it takes on a whole new beauty!