Monday, 28 February 2011

A Movie Premiere

It seems like the day after the Oscars is the ideal time to premiere our James' Lego animation.

I mentioned a couple of weeks ago how I had bought some animation software for him since he so enjoyed making little animations using my phone.

He worked out how to use the software in no time. You use your webcam to take the still photos. There are over 2000 sound effects to add, as well as music and the option to add your own voice and music.

He spent the mid-term holiday week working on this one, which he has entered in the short film competition at the local Mod (the Mod is a Gaelic music/arts competition. More in another post, I'm sure!)

The animation is the story of the Sword in the Stone, but in Gaelic.

I think Aardman Animation will be on the phone soon offering him a job :0)

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Work in Progress Wednesday - Crochet Beret

This hat crocheted up really quickly because of the holes in it. It took me two evenings.

When I was working on it Calum asked me what I was making. I told him it was a hat. His reply was, 'but it's full of holes!'

Yes, dear, thank you, but the holes are part of the pattern.

I also learned a new stitch, a front post double crochet and a back post double crochet. These give the kind of rib round the brim of that hat that you can see better in the darker picture.

Now I can get started on the baby blankets I mentioned in yesterday's post!

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Calling all crocheters...

The Good Morning Girls team have set a challenge for all the groups taking part. The challenge came about as a result of what we were reading in James (especially James 1:22-27 & James 2:20) about true faith showing itself through our actions.

The challenge is to think of a way our group can help out The Mercy House, a project being set up in Kenya by a friend of one of the GMG team. For the full background you can read here, but in short, it is being set up to provide care, practical help and support for young street girls in Kenya who are pregnant and would otherwise be forced into having back-street abortions.

There are different ways to help out.
♥ You can buy from their fundraising etsy store, (at the moment it looks like they only ship to the US, but we have contacted them and asked if they would look into overseas shipping costs, as I'd like one of the t-shirts!)

♥ You can send things in for their monthly collection drives (lists of wanted items are on the site)

♥ Our group has decided, and here is where the post title comes in, that since a few of us love our crafts we would crochet some baby blankets and send them in. Or knit. Or sew.

I've found some lovely free baby blanket crochet patterns online and can't wait to get started.

I'd love to get more people involved too, so if anyone out there would like to help then please let me know. I have a really strong desire to get this going and to keep it going too. The more we have on board the more we can help!

Monday, 21 February 2011

Keys to a healthy marriage

A picture of a hand and key-ring with the words Marriage Unlocked on the key ring

On Friday evening my husband and I went to a seminar run by Care for the Family called, Marriage Unlocked. It was aimed at all marriages, new or old (or inbetween!)

We were pleasantly surprised to see about 200 people there, and a few who we knew too!

At the seminar the speakers, a couple who have been married for 25 years, gave us 6 keys to unlock an even better relationship. While I think we had worked most of these out for ourselves over the last 12 years, it was good to feel reassured that we are on the right track! The speakers were excellent, really approachable, and the talk was full of anecdotes from their own marriage.

Briefly, the six keys were as follows.

(1) Be the best of friends.
Make time for each other. Just yourselves. Don't just assume it's going to happen.
We make Friday or Saturday night our time for this. We rarely go out on a 'date' as such, but often just leave our dinner until the boys have gone to bed and then we have time to talk without the juice spills and the meat cutting and the sauce passing etc etc! Then we will watch a DVD or sit and read. Simple but so effective!

(2) Keep talking.
Talk to each other about everything and listen to each other too. A good listener will encourage someone else to talk.

(3) Argue well.
Here is where we have some ground to make up. According to the statistics the speakers gave, the average couple has 8 arguments a day! I think I would be exhausted if that was the case with us. Neither of us are really the argumentative types, and I can't say I remember us ever arguing. That's not to say we don't disagree on things. We just don't shout our point of view at the other.
Anyway, the three Rs of good arguing are; recognise your differences, respect each other and resolve the issue.

(4) Communicate Love.
There are 5 ways to communicate love.
Words, Presents, Time, Actions and Touch.
Not everyone appreciates being shown love each of these ways and so you need to work out which way your spouse likes.

(5) Build Intimacy.
Intimacy is an expression of your exclusive commitment and the best way of communicating your love.
And it is never, ever the way that Hollywood would portray it!

(6) Choose to love
Remember those vows you made on your wedding day. There are bound to be times when everything isn't plain sailing but that is no excuse to throw in the towel!

A strong, happy marriage doesn't just happen. It needs to be nurtured, almost like a plant I suppose. Put the effort in and the rewards will be great!

Gaelic word of the day:
posadh (paw-sagh) - marriage

Friday, 18 February 2011

Things I'm loving Friday ♥


Linking up with Paisley Jade again 

Here's my things I'm loving this week.

Chip-proof nail polish. The colour? Deluxe Chocolate of course!

The (slight) increase in temperature outside so that I finally got to wear my red shoes out of the house instead of my big boots.

And, at the risk of turning into the 'Paisley Jade appreciation society', when I saw one of these on her blog last week I just knew I had to make one for us!

A rainbow cake.

Have a great weekend everyone.


Thursday, 17 February 2011

Recipe of the Week - Toffee Popcorn

A quick and easy recipe this week.

You will need:

3-4oz popping corn
1oz dairy free margarine
1oz brown sugar
1tbsp golden syrup
a little oil

~Put enough oil in the pan to just cover the bottom. Add the corn, and the lid.

~Heat gently until popped, shaking the pan occasionally to stop the bottom corns burning.

~Meanwhile, in another pan, melt the butter.

~Then add the sugar & syrup and boil for a couple of minutes until a bit thicker.

~Pour the toffee mix over the popped corn and give the pan another shake to cover it all.

~Enjoy with a good movie.

We're watching 'How to Train your Dragon' tonight. 

And last night.

A Hollywood film with genuine Scottish accents! Excellent. Oh, yes, I should have said on Monday, apologies  for the American accents in the LEGO movie!

Watching the corn popping.

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Work in Progress Wednesday - Baby Crochet

There have been quite a few babies born lately so I have been working on some baby crafts.

♥ My youngest and oldest babies ♥ (my middle two were already alseep!) ♥

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Living with food allergies

I was planning to write a few posts about living with food allergies for a while now, but was never sure how to start without it looking like I was (a) looking for sympathy or (b) looking for some sort of credit for surviving. 

Which I am not. 

I am (a) constantly thankful for my boys' general health and (b) would probably still do just as much baking and cooking from scratch even if we weren't faced with these allergies.

OK, I know none of you were really thinking either of these two things but just wanted to make it clear anyway :0)

So, what finally prompted me to write this first allergy post was something that happened on Sunday night. 

I was making up a batch of pancakes for supper and Alasdair was in his usual spot beside me. I let him whisk the flour and sugar since we were using his flour. I then added the milk and eggs and moved the jug away. Some of the mix must have spilled though, which he touched and then touched his face. By the time we sat down to eat the pancakes his right eye had swollen up as though he had been hit on it and he could hardly open his eye. He was tearing away, scratching at his hands too. 

As soon as I saw his eye I gave him a dose of anti-histamine. We have learned over our years of dealing with eczema that distraction is the key to stopping the scratching. First of all, as it was quite hot inside, I took him and stood at the back door where we looked at the moon for a few minutes. The cool air helped his skin but as soon as we sat down again he was scratching again so this time I took him up to the bathroom, filled the sink with cold, cold water and got a little bath toy in it. I wound up the toy and got Alasdair to lift it out of the water for me. In no time at all his hands had cooled down and the itch was gone. 

It took at least an hour for the swelling in his eye to go down.

This was him about an hour afterwards.

Unlike Calum (8) and James (11), Alasdair has never actually had a reaction as a result of contact with food before. He was tested for the allergies long before he was weaned because of the severity of his eczema and the fact that he had brothers with various allergies.

The way he reacted to the eggs is exactly the same as James and Calum. They can all take eggs fine in a cake or biscuit but not something that is mostly egg like scrambled egg, meringue etc. Nor can they touch the raw egg.

I'll just have to be extra specially careful next time he heps me with the pancake mix!

My only non-allergy boy asked me to take this photo for the blog tonight aswell. He made the dinner tonight, his speciality, Easy Peasy Pizza - a scone base pizza. He was right to be proud of it as it tasted delicious (Calum and Alasdair had non-cheesy versions, obviously!)

Gaelic word of the day:
ugh (oo) - egg

Monday, 14 February 2011

Valentine's Food and LEGO!!

Ok, just a wee post tonight as there is a 3 minute video clip at the bottom and I don't want to overdo things!

Like I said last week, in our house we celebrated Valentine's Day on Saturday. I had been telling the boys that I was planning to bring daddy up some coffee in bed then make a big breakfast for us all. James' reply to this was, 'but it's your Valentine's Day too so we will bring the tea upstairs.'

And they did. As well as some handmade gifts, made of LEGO - of course.

James' LEGO gift consisted of a wee bag each of LEGO bricks and some hand drawn instructions. When we had assembled our piece we were then to stick them together and they made a love-heart.

Our Valentine's Dinner was:

Smoked Salmon Pate with Pumpkin Seed Toast & Rocket

Salmon En-Croute with new potatoes and asparagus
(I know, I know, two salmon courses. 
I agonised over whether I should or not but my hubs loves the salmon pate and I wanted to try something quite different from our usual for the main course. When I asked my beloved if he thought it was too much salmon he said he wouldn't even have thought about it if I hadn't mentioned it!)

Berry Cheesecake

These days James loves making little animations using my phone. On Friday afternoon he and his brothers forbade me to enter his room while they worked on this clip below which was one of our presents.

We have looked online and found a great software package for stop-start animation using your webcam. We downloaded the trial version and already James has a good grasp of how it works. The actual software contains amazing sound effects as well as the option to add your own music and voice. 

James' next project is to make a short animation for the local Mod (Gaelic Arts Competition). He is planning to do the story of King Arthur - in Gaelic! I can't wait to share some of what he has been creating with this software. They are quite impressive and I'm sure it's not just me as his proud mum that will think so!

Friday, 11 February 2011

Things I'm loving Friday ♥


I'm loving Google Picasa 3 and how I've just discovered how easy it is to do photo collages and digital scrapbooking with it!

Here's my very collage done with it. A few snaps from our last visit to Edinburgh Castle, Oct 2007.

Little David, now 5, was just 23 months old back then. The boys liked the fact that the sign he is sitting by said 'David's Tower'. 

Despite the fact that the boys' school is within walking distance of the castle, this was the last time we actually visited it, partly due to the cost! James has been to visit it quite a few times with his class recently though, because they have been studying the history of the Great Hall. He wants to take us all and be our personal tour guide so look out for some more photos in the not too distant future.

Thursday, 10 February 2011

Recipe of the Week - Marble Cake (Wheat & Dairy Free)

Marble Cake looks impressive and yet is surprisingly easy to make. If you can whip up a Victoria Sponge then you can whip up a Marble Cake!

You will need:
8oz dairy-free margarine
8oz sugar
10oz Dove's Farm Wheat-Free Self Raising Flour
2tsp baking powder
4 eggs
2tbsp rice (or soya) milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp cocoa powder
2 tbsp hot water

~Put the margarine, sugar, flour, baking powder, eggs, milk and vanilla extract into the bowl of a freestanding mixer and beat until everything is well mixed, light and fluffy.
~Put round about half of the mix into another bowl.
~In a cup, mix the cocoa powder and hot water until it's smooth.
~Add this to one of the bowls and mix well until it's a smooth brown mixture.
~Into a lined 2lb loaf tin drop random spoonfuls of each mix, without mixing them together.
~Bake for 50-60 minutes at 160C.
~Cool on a cooling rack.

Little boys are fascinated by the way the patterns change with each slice of cake, and so keep eating it to see what the next pattern will look like.

 Well, that's the excuse I was given anyway!

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Work in Progress Wednesday - Children's Valentine's Crafts

Continuing with yesterday's theme, today the boys were busy helping me make a few things for Valentine's Day.

More printables!

These are the cards the boys made for daddy.

James' has a pop-out string of love hearts. You can download it here.
David loves all things Toy Story. His picture is downloadable here.
Calum is a good little colourer so he chose the elephants card, available here.

David is the only boy to have made a card for a girl too, for his best friend.

We printed out these cup-cake wrappers and cut them out.

Download here.

Then we printed put these little sweetie boxes and cut them out.

Download them here.

We also printed out this sweetie box.

Download here.

I'm not sure what sweeties we will put inside these boxes yet. 

Lastly we printed out these flowers.

Download here.

We still need to cut out a few more of them to make a bunch, and stick them all to straws to make the stalks.

And that's us so far.

New printer well and truly tested :0)

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Valentine's Plans

I can think of nothing worse than the full commercial version of Valentine's Day. Dinner at a restaurant far too crowded, charging far too much and a bunch of hugely price-inflated roses.

Instead, we tend to go for the homely version. Candle-lit dinner when the boys are in bed and small, inexpensive gifts.

We are going to have our Valentine's Day on Saturday this year, since come Monday my beloved will be back at work up north.

This year I have found some great ideas that I want to share if anyone is looking for some inspiration.

I found this great themed printout set. I love to make cards but may just print out the one included in this set to go with the theme. My husband isn't a fan of breakfast in bed (!) so I'll probably just bring him coffee up and then we can all sit down to our Saturday morning pancakes, although I might make the full Scottish fry-up for him as a wee change.

The 10 things I love about you cards in this set are such a lovely idea. I like the menu card too but will adapt it slightly to suit our menu, which I'm still thinking about. Pudding will probably be Nigella's Fruit Tart from her new book, Kitchen. I always get pudding sorted out first! For main course I might make Salmon En-Croute, something a little bit different from usual but not needing hours in the kitchen to prepare (ready-made puff pastry!)

As part of my gift I'm going to make up these printable coupons from the same website.

And I might even print out this banner as a decoration.

Can you tell we have a new printer that I am desperate to try out? :0)

There are so many nice printable freebies on this site it is difficult to know where to stop! (we also have the Compliments poster on our noticeboard too!)

When I was searching online for a little gift I came across these lovely mugs on the Dayspring website.

Mr. & Mrs. - Love Collection Set

The mugs have this lovely text inside them.

I thought this little set would be perfect until I read the small-print about shipping and it said shipping to the UK could take up to 8 weeks!

 It will be nearly Easter by then!

 I did search for a UK supplier but with no joy. I might, however, go ahead and order them then keep them hidden for our anniversary in the summer.

So, that's my plans so far. I'd love to hear what everyone else has got planned too.

Gaelic word of the day:
(hmmm, this is a tricky one to write phoenetically. It's like a long small i sound in the middle,
but I can't think of any similar sound other than all the ao sounds in Gaelic!)
It means love ♥

Monday, 7 February 2011

Burns Supper

Every year my husband's sister hosts a Burns Supper. This year's supper was a little later than usual as she had something else on last weekend, when it would usually have taken place.

In the past it was a much smaller affair with only a few close friends and family there. The girls would get together a few weeks beforehand and write a funny song about the boys, using the melody from any well known Scots tune, and the boys would do likewise about the girls. It was usually a source of great hilarity.

Now though, it has grown and grown, with about 30 people there this year. At my sister-in-law's church there are a lot of students so it seems that every year there are quite a few new folk invited. While it is nice to meet new people, I must say I do miss the intimacy of the old days (and by old days I only mean about 5 years ago!) The evening is still good fun with haggis, neeps and tatties provided by my SIL; we all bring deserts; there was a fun Scottish quiz and then a Scottish sing-a-long to finish. I don't mean to boast, but the team The Mighty Murrays (myself, hubs and our two oldest boys) were victorious in the quiz :0)

Sit back and enjoy (quite) a few photos of the evening.

You can tell we've just arrived because shirts are pretty much still tucked in and socks are just about all
 still up!

Daddy's boy

Another giant chocolate cupcake

David and a couple of the other boys who were there (he doesn't take long making friends!)

....Enjoying the giant chocolate cupcake...

Calum loves Auntie Anna's collie dog, Cuilean.

I love this picture of my husband!

Alasdair loves Cuilean too.

The boys song a sang of their own...

...then David sang a solo....

...then everyone had a sing-song.

The Mighty Murrays ready to leave.

Our quiz prize!

Back home again in the calm, quiet houseful of boys.

Thank you so much to those who are praying for the family in the post below. It's all that we can do in such a time.