Monday, 31 January 2011

Away up in Gorgie at Tyncastle Park......

On Saturday we attended the wedding of a work colleague of my husband. The boys had been looking forward to it because the wedding reception was to be held in the function suite of the football team that they and my husband support.

At dad's suggestion they took their football tops with them to change into for the evening. They wore their kilts to the service and then when we had parked outside the stadium got changed in the car into their football tops. There was some hilarity in the car as tried to get changed without being seen, even though we were parked in a dark street, at night, and the car has tinted windows!

Alasdair doesn't have a football top so he stayed in his kilt.

At the start of the evening the groom had a word with the security man and the boys were allowed to go to the pitch-side.

I stayed inside so this next photo was taken by my husband. I think he was so excited that he forgot to hold the camera still!

On a slightly different note, the boys were hugely impressed when they saw the wedding cake.

Princess Leah and Hans Solo.

with Darth Vader at the bottom

And the words in this post title are from the club song,

Away up in Gorgie at Tynecastle Park
There’s a wee football team that aye makes it’s mark
They’ve won all the honours for footballing arts
And there’s nae other team to compare with the Hearts

If you cannae spell it then here’s what it says
Hearts glorious Hearts
It’s down at Tynecastle they bide
The talk of the toun are the boys in Maroon
And Auld Reekie supports them with pride
This is my story this is my song
Follow the Hearts and you can’t go wrong
For some say the Celtic and Rangers are grand
but the boys in maroon are the best in the land

As a wee footnote, my husband took me to a Hearts match when we were 'just good friends'. The trouble was, I had been brought up in a family of blue-noses (Rangers fans) and we were going to watch Rangers V Hearts, at  Ibrox (Rangers' stadium) in the Hearts end! I had to pretend to be a Hearts fan that day. Hearts won 3-0 so we have a laugh now about how my husband got to hug me three times! It wasn't long after this that we became officially more than just friends, although the football had nothing to do with it!

Now, living with boys who all support the Hearts I have to keep my original colours under wraps! I'm quite happy to support the same team as them, just not when they play mine!

Gaelic word of the day:
ball-coise (bal-cosh-e) - football 

Friday, 28 January 2011

Things I'm loving Friday ♥


Paisley Jade has had Things I'm Loving Friday on her blog for a while but now she has made up this little button and invited everyone else to join in too.

It's all about looking out for the simple things that make us happy each week. And there is always plenty to make you smile and be thankful.

Here are my things I'm loving this week:

How Calum has got so interested in books recently. He couldn't put this one down and this is him walking out of the train station the other day on the way home from school!

 How this little man makes everything so fun. This was him talking on his toy phone and turning a couple of big tins into a seat. And how he loves his 'raaars' too (his little slippers!)

My Good Morning Girls Bible Study. Getting to know all the girls in my group, finding out we have so much in common despite our geographical miles and encouraging each other.

A bit of a respite from the harsh winter weather so that the boys can get outside for a bit. OK, so it's still only 2 degrees out there but it's dry, not icy or snowy and they can get out on their bikes for half an hour!

Of course it goes without saying that I'm loving my boys and my beloved, and I'm also loving the fact that they get to wear their kilts to the Boys Brigade Burns Supper tonight, to a wedding tomorrow and to my 
sister-in-law's Burns Supper next Saturday!

♥  ♥  ♥

Thursday, 27 January 2011

Recipe of the Week - Steak Pie

When I started my blog I planned to have a special allergy-free recipe each week as my Recipe of the Week. There are so many recipes out there for 'normal' diets that I wanted to share those that catered for those on a special diet, like my Calum and Alasdair. However, we don't always eat wheat and dairy-free meals and cakes in this house, and I want to share some of these recipes too.

For example, I might be making something that starts off without any allergens and then take a portion out before adding some cream at the end. Or if I am making up a cake which I haven't adapted then I will also rustle up a quick batch of wheat & dairy free cupcakes or flapjacks that are always a hit with the boys.

This week's recipe is the Steak Pie that I made for James' birthday last week. A few folk have since asked for the recipe. I cooked the meat and then took a portion out for Calum & Alasdair before adding the pastry to the top. One of these days I will try and perfect my wheat & dairy free pastry!

You will need to give yourself a couple of hours to cook the meat slowly and also to remember to put the butter in the freezer in advance of making the pastry, but it is not labour intensive at all.

You will need:
1 large onion, sliced
2lb braising steak, cubed
2tbsp cornflour
750ml mixture of red wine and vegetable stock
a couple of sprigs of thyme

for the pastry:
12oz plain flour
1 tbsp English mustard powder
7oz butter, frozen
8-10tbsp cold water
1 egg yolk, beaten (optional)

~Heat a little oil in a pan and soften the onions in it.
~Dust the meat with the cornflour, just slightly, and then add to the pan and cook until browned.
~Add your liquid and thyme, bring to the boil and then either simmer on the hob or transfer to a casserole dish and put in the oven for 2 hours at about 150C. I choose the oven option because then you aren't looking out for a simmering pan and checking it hasn't boiled dry.

~To make the pastry, mix the flour and mustard in a bowl.
~Grate the frozen butter into the bowl and mix all through gently.
~Add enough water to make a dough. You might need more or less than is asked for.
~Wrap the dough in clingfilm and put in the fridge for about half and hour.

~Flour a worksurface and roll the pastry out until it is slightly larger than your pie dish.
~Put the meat mix into the pie dish (removing any for any special little boys) and cover with the pastry. 
~Leaving a slight overhang of pastry on the edges, trim it slightly (although the pastry is so popular in our house that I don't trim it at all. Everyone helps themselves to the crispy extras hanging down!)
~If you want it really golden then brush with the egg yolk.
~Put it back in the oven, now at 200C for another 30 minutes.

~Serve with buttery mash and pureed carrots & parsnips.

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Work in Progress Wednesday

Short and sweet tonight.

I'm working on a scarf and brooch the same as the one I made for my mum's Christmas present. Only in a different colour.

This one is for my granny's birthday, which is on Saturday so I really need to get it in the post by Friday. She was admiring my mum's one so I said I'd make her one too.

My granny (my mum's mum) lives about 2 miles away from my parents. She will be 85, or maybe 86 - (I must check!), is still living in her own house and has 9 great-grandchildren.

Anyway, the scarf.

I must try and get a photo of it in daylight because this doesn't do the colour justice. It's more of a teal colour and has little sequins through it.

OK, I'm off to try and finish it!

Gaelic word of the day:
seanamhair (shen-avar) - grandmother

Monday, 24 January 2011

A medieval birthday banquet (and how to build a castle cake)

On the off-chance that anyone might be planning a medieval style party and be in need of some instructions for building a castle cake, I thought I'd share how I made James' cake. You will need a couple of hours to spare though, and the cute helper is optional!

Firstly, I made a double batch of Victoria Sponge. Ideally you should make the cake the day before icing it, because then it's not so crumbly when you spread the icing on.

Then I had to colour 3lbs of white sugarpaste icing to a small piece of black and the rest to various shades of grey.

People will ask me, 'How do you get so much baking done with four boys around?'
Answer: 'the bigger ones will either help or amuse themselves, while the youngest will sit in his own special spot right beside me.' 

Now I had to assemble the cake/castle.

Sandwich the sponges together with jam and buttercream.

Add four swiss rolls to the corners to make the turrets and cover everything in buttercream cement.

Put the black icing across the front and some grey on the roofs.

Meanwhile, if you have a little helper you may find that he has started testing the buttercream for you!

Now the time consuming part.

Make lots and lots of little balls of grey icing, flatten them a little then add the bricks. 

Add the door and ramparts too.

I also dyed a little coconut green for the grass.

And there you have it.

Oh, yes, the canon on the roof too. And some canon balls!

This was the banqueting table before the knights and Lady Guinevere sat down.

And once they had sat down.

The sparkler was on the back of the canon.

Thursday, 20 January 2011

A houseful of music

For some time now Calum has been interested in learning to play the violin and I've been on the lookout for a reasonably cheap 1/4 size violin. I wanted one with a decent enough sound, as early violin playing is pretty screechy sounding at the best of times, but I didn't want to spend too much money on it in case he soon lost interest in it. (I think he'll stick at it though, given his personality)

I finally found one on eBay for £20, including the case and a few books, and it arrived today. Calum was so excited.

To begin with I'm going to teach him myself, with some help from some on-line resources.

I studied music at University, my main instruments were piano and oboe (and I also chose to major in composition). I also played a little flute and trumpet. Then when I did my postgraduate teacher training we had to learn to be a sort of Jack-of-all-trades and play some guitar, bass guitar, recorder and drums.

So, although I know I won't get him up to Conservetoire standard on my own, I'm fairly confident we can get things started. I'm hoping to learn a bit myself too, so will need to start saving up for a full size fiddle!

James has been learning both trombone and chanter at school for about a year now, and is still really enjoying both. Tonight when he was practising his trombone he suddenly worked out how to play the tune below by himself. I'm impressed to see him trying out tunes by ear.

I won't tell you what it is, see if you can guess, but I will give you the clue that it is from something that is very popular in this house!

And to finish, Calum wanted to show off the first tune that he had learned today.

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Graze Boxes (and a code for a free box!)

Around about November time I saw an advert in the paper for Graze boxes. The advert had the headline, 'Eat fewer biscuits'. Now anyone who has been following my blog for a while will know that I am fond of a cake or two. I do, however, try and eat healthily most of the time! When you are busy at home all day though, it is all too easy to reach for the biscuit tin for a quick snack (it is for me anyway!), and so I checked out the Graze website.

They have a whole range of healthy snacks on offer. You can choose which you do and don't want to try. They make up your box with four different snacks and post it out to you, either at home or at work, or wherever really.

The snacks include various dried fruit mixes; flapjacks; omega seed mixes; nut mixes; spicy Korean rice cracker things; mini focacia breads; olives etc. One mix is called milkshake mix and is made up of dried strawberries (yes, really, and they are yum), dried bananas and white chocolate buttons. Chocolate! In a healthy eating box! That's my kind of healthy eating :0)

Each box costs £3.49 including delivery which I think is pretty good value. You would easily pay this much in a supermarket for a similar mix of stuff. 

I started out getting two boxes a week, on a Monday and a Thursday, and had thought I would cut it down to one after a while but James & David both love the snacks too so I'm keeping it at two since I end up sharing them! 

James' favourite is the savoury seed mix; David & Alasdair love all the raisin combinations and I can't choose which I like best.

I love the surprise of opening a box and seeing what treats are in it for that day. You can also rate snacks after tasting them so if you try something you don't like, click on it and they won't send it to you again. The only thing I wasn't keen on so far was the prunes, even though they were cunningly disguised as Imperial Dried Plums, you can't fool me! 

Here is Alasdair making a bee-line for the cranberry and green raisin mix.

If you want to try out a box for free then go the website here and enter the following code where it asks for it on the right hand side:

Then tell them what you don't like on their list (if anything) and wait for your lovely snacks to come through your letter box!

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

On this day.........

.......11 years ago, our first son was born. 

Here are a few more numbers........

I was 22 years old, we had been married 18 months, he was 10 days past his due date but eventually arrived, without the need for induction, at 11.28am weighing 8lb 5oz and 21 inches long.

(Incidentally, all four boys were 21 inches long at birth. I was about to go into a list of birth weights and days overdue etc but that can wait till another post!)

Back to James.

We called him James for a few reasons.
(1) It is my dad's name, and was his dad's name too. (I see another post here about family names!)
(2) It is my father-in-law's middle name.
(3) It is the name of one of my husband's closest friends, who back in those days as a lonely bachelor seemed to spend most of his spare time in our flat!
(4)It was a name we both really liked. Traditional but not too formal or fussy.

And we gave him the middle name Andrew after his daddy.

James has always been very sociable. He seems to have inherited his father's gift for connecting with people. He is kind, thoughtful and very helpful, especially with Alasdair, and really tries his best to be a good role model for his younger brothers. Of course he has times when he argues with them or sulks a little when asked to do something, but on the whole he is a delightful son and I'm proud to be his mum.

A very quick example of how thoughtful he is-
Last night before dinner he asked, 'Mum, have you got much to do tonight?'
Monday is when I clean the house from top to bottom so having completed that I answered that I didn't, that I had nothing planned.
'Oh, I was just wondering would you make some cupcakes for my class for my birthday tomorrow?' he asked.
I had thought that perhaps he was too old now to want to bring some in. So it was, that after dinner last night I made 2 dozen cupcakes for him. I really appreciated the fact that he asked about my plans before requesting his own.

He is having a few friends round on Saturday for a medieval banquet, as he planned way back in the summer, so tonight we just had a birthday tea, myself and the boys. Dad will be back home for the banquet though.

James' favourite dinner is Steak Pie and I tried out a new recipe. It was really delicious. I know I'm not supposed to say that since I made it but it really was! I loved how well the flaky pastry worked, because I haven't made it before.
 Then we had a giant cupcake cake. He wants a castle cake for his banquet. Gulp!

So, here are some food photos, followed by a video showing why you shouldn't try and light more than two sparklers on a cake because you can't get them all lit at the same time! Please ignore me frowning, those sparklers were really sparkling!, and look at Alasdair's fascination instead. Also, David sang Happy Birthday in Gaelic and we sang it in English - at the same time!

I wanted a photo of all four boys but Alasdair burst into tears when I tried to get him to sit with them here!