Monday, 31 October 2011

A weekend trip

Technically it wasn't really a weekend trip as we were only away for about 30 hours.

My husband had a speaking engagement in Banchory, Aberdeenshire on Sunday morning and so we all went up as a family on Saturday afternoon.

The journey only takes about 2.5 hours but the people we were staying with were not due to be in until about 7pm and so we had a leisurely drive up the East Coast, stopping a few times along the way.

First stop was for tea and scones, just beyond Perth.

Second stop was it was another tea room, in Arbroath now, although this time we went for the hot chocolate.

Yes, it was as good as it looks!

After our refreshments, we braved the elements and went to the harbour. There was a strong wind blowing and the waves were crashing over the harbour wall.

The boys started off watching from a safe distance.

Which wasn't really safe enough, as the wind blew the remaining spray pretty far.

So we retreated to the car, and got a bit closer to the waves.

Then we meandered our way up the coast a bit more until we reached Stonehaven, where we stopped for dinner from the fish and chip shop. No-one actually had fish though. We had haggis, steak pie and sausages with chips. Well, not all of them, but different people had different things.

We had our little picnic in the car as it was dark by now and the weather was as above!

We were nice and cosy though.

In Banchory we were staying with a lovely couple who my husband has known since his days studying in Aberdeen.

Sunday was a beautiful day, quite unlike the one before, and Alasdair found this little car in the garden.

Calum and David had a sneaky wee shot on the trampoline before church...

'Let me see mum!'

...and James sat inside, trying out his new sketch pad and pencils.

My husband was speaking at a church about the work the charity he works for does in Aberdeenshire for the homeless. The church had designated yesterday, Compassion Sunday.

They were a really lovely, welcoming congregation.

We spent the afternoon at the house of my husband's best man before heading back down the road again. Of course it would have made a bit more sense for daddy to stay up in Aberdeen as he was heading back up there this morning to work, but he wanted to spend what was left of the weekend with us as he normally does. After dropping the older boys at school this morning, he was on his usual train north again.

On our way home yesterday evening, Calum was very excited when we drove through Dundee and passed the ship that Scott of the Antarctic sailed on.

It's a dreadful photo, as we were only driving past and this was the closest we could get to it. It's on our to-do list for days out to go back and see it properly.

A busy 30 hours, but fun ones.

Friday, 28 October 2011

Things I'm Loving...


There hasn't been much chance for loving anything this week but the boys' fancy dress costumes.

And I have to say that I really do love them.

The costumes.

And the boys.

And the boys love the costumes too.

So, here they are...

....a group of super heroes to strike fear into any baddie.....

They were at their Boys Brigade party tonight, and my sweet little Thor won first prize!

Have you ever seen a cuter super hero?

Oh, and you should have seen the state of the shower after Hulk was in it tonight!!

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

My Creative Space

I have a couple of crochet projects on the go just now (when do I not?!) but this week they have been put to one side while I work on the boys' costumes for their fancy dress party at Boy's Brigade this Friday.

The boys themselves all decided that they wanted to dress up with a co-ordinating theme, and so they chose Marvel heroes.

James has chosen to go as Captain America (of course), Calum as the Hulk and David as Thor.

Captain America is almost done, I just need to sew up his gloves.

Here he is so far, with the rather proud wearer.

He said to me tonight, 'I love it, I didn't think it would look this good.' 

I'm pretty sure that he didn't mean that he thought my efforts would be woeful at first, but what he meant was that he knew it would be good, just not this good. 

Pretty sure.

I'm particularly pleased with the boots.

Tomorrows task is to make another pair of these, in a different colour, for my little Thor.

Here was our inspiration for Captain America.

I also need to check if we have any green face paint for Hulk, source some green tights for him, make Thor's boots, finish Thor's tunic, add some blonde hair (yellow wool) to Thor's helmet, finish Captain America's gloves....

Deep breath......

Linking up with lots of other inspiring creativity at My Creative Space and also at The Train to Crazy.

And don't worry, I'll be sure to let you all see the end results! 

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Storms and Promises

In the typical way that we Brits are obsessed with the weather, the last few days when I've seen people and they have asked about our holiday to Lewis last week, they have asked what the weather was like.

My reply has always been that the weather was stormy and that we didn't mind, as no-one goes to Lewis in October for the weather. In fact, no-one goes to Lewis in the summer for the weather either! Or anywhere else in Scotland, for that matter.


Although the weather was rough, I did get these lovely rainbow shots.

They were taken from the front seat of my mum's car (she was driving, don't worry) as we drove in to James' singing competition.

I do love rainbows, and all that they promise.

I love the brightness of the colours in this next one, and the focus on the rain on the window.

In each of the photos you can see the second rainbow quite clearly too.

Genesis 9: 12-17

Monday, 24 October 2011

James' Mod Song

As you know, last week we were at the National Mod. If you didn't know, then see this post here.

The solo singing competition took place on a really stormy day. By the time we got back home at lunchtime the wind was so strong you could hardly stand up.

Needless to say, my granny didn't venture out to hear James sing!

Instead, we took the song to her, and I took this video of James there, since there is no filming or photography allowed in the competitions.

He doesn't sing the full song here, and sings it at a lower pitch than he would normally do if he had been given the starting note, plus he has the added distraction of his 2 year old brother playing with his lorries at the fireside, but other than that you get a good representation of the song!!

The song is called Eilean Beag Donn a Chuain (el-an bek down a choo-an) - Little Brown Island in the Sea, a lament about the Island of Lewis.

Saturday, 22 October 2011

Things I'm loving...


I'll keep it brief tonight, as we are just back from our holiday at my parents' so there is plenty more I should be doing other than blogging!

There is nothing worse than waking up on the day you are due to leave the island (or travel to the island) and hearing a gale blowing outside. 3 hours on that boat in that sea in a gale is not fun. Thankfully, my dad assured us that the shipping forecast had said the gale would die down by lunchtime.

It did, and although there was some swell left, the first of my things I'm thankful for this week is relatively calm crossings, both over to the island last week and then home again this week.

So, after a week with family I would have to say that what I was loving most was time with family.

Most of my family still live on the island so we don't get to see them very often.

Here are me and the boys with my granny. She is 87 and has 9 great-grandchildren.

Our other big thing we loved this week.

Remember back in the summer in another Things I'm loving post, I told you all about the band we were all loving?

Manran, a new Gaelic band.

The post is here.

Well, walking down the main street in Stornoway last week we bumped into the singer/guitarist/accordianist from the band!

He was so friendly and chatted to the boys about various things, asking James all about his Mod appearance too.

We got this photo of him with the older boys, and it really was the highlight of their holiday.

You can see how chuffed they were!

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Holiday time again!

Well the reason that the houseful of boys has been quiet for the last week or so is that all the noise, mayhem, fun and laughter has been coming from my parents house, where we are having a wee holiday again.

This week the Royal National Mod is taking place up here in Stornoway, the Isle of Lewis.

The National Mod is an annual Gaelic music competition.

There are solo instrumental competitions (fiddle, chanter, pipes, accordion and clarsach); drama competitions; solo singing, grouped by age; poetry recititation; story telling; choral singing and folk group competitions all for children at the start of the week.

The second half of the week coniststs of the adult competitions which are solo and choral singing only.

This year was our James' first time entering the solo singing at the National.

His singing competition was yesterday and he sang really, really well. There were 20 boys in his age group and the results were really close. Although he didn't get a placing, we were really proud of how well he had done in his performance.

He also took part with his class in the drama competition on Monday and they came third!

The Mod is all about celebrating our language, culture and music. The moto is 'Ar canain 's ar ceol' (ar canan s ar cy-ol) - Our language and our music.

I'm all for this celebrating our culture and language but there are quite a few Mod parents for whom winning is everything, which is really sad.

We have been keen to pass onto our boys that it is the taking part and doing your best that counts. There are far more important things in life than winning.

I was as proud of James' attitude in taking part as I was of his actual performance.

And also of how handsome he looked.

The website of the National Mod is here, if anyone is interested.

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Make your home a haven

In keeping with my autumnal theme this week, Courtney over at Women Living Well, has a lovely Fall Challenge, all about making your home a haven. 

The challenges are not in the least bit challenging but so well thought out.

Last week's was to light a cosy big candle somewhere in your home, living room or kitchen are the best suggestions, and then every time you see this candle to pray for peace in your home.

So simple, and yet so worthwhile.

This week's challenge is:

Play soft music everyday in your home. Choose music that the family enjoys.
Then, focus on using peaceful words and maintaining peaceful relationships. Role model gentleness with your words this week and while you’re add it have a little fun.  Since the music is going,  grab your husband or children and dance! 

Proverbs 15:1 says “A gentle answer turns away wrath but a harsh word stirs up anger.”

Head on over to Women Living Well if you want to see the full challenge for this week.

Monday, 10 October 2011


I love the area where we live, especially the leafy-ness of it (yes, I know that probably isn't a word).

We moved here 9 years ago, and when we were looking for a house I remember driving down the road our street is off and thinking how pretty it was, and how lovely it would be to live there.

Then we saw the perfect little house for us for sale in one of the streets off that road and a few months later we moved in, just a few months before son no.2 was born.

I especially love to watch the leaves as they change at this time of year, and the kaleidoscope of colours they display. 

Every autumn I have thought of taking a photo every week to see how the colours change as autumn progresses but have never got round to doing it before now.

This year I have made it one of my autumn projects.

This is the street I am talking about and also my Autumn-Watch Week 1.

There is quite a lot of green still around, although the trees in the distance are more autumnal. I'll need to try and get them clearer in next week's shot.

Our street is off to the left there where the white markings are.

Just as a reminder of what lies at the end of Autumn, this next photo was taken from almost the exact same spot in the middle of last winter.

I think it is also beautiful in it's own way, but boy do I feel cold just looking at it!

Thursday, 6 October 2011

Recipe of the Week - Scottish Shortbread

There are some things you bake and the smell wafting from the oven just screams 'Domestic Goddess'.

In my opinion this is one of those recipes.

The sweet, warm, buttery smell........

You have to give this one a go.

And it's super easy too!

Oh, yes, one more thing, you must use real butter for this, not margarine. You need the real buttery taste to make it so super yummy.

You will need:
8oz plain flour
8oz butter
4oz icing 
4oz cornflour
sugar for sprinkling over the top

~All you need to do is put all of the ingredients in a food processor and blitz until they are all mixed well. It will look like a fine powder rather than a biscuity dough.

~Tip into a rectangular tray-bake tray and press down until flat and smooth. My favourite tin for this is my Pampered Chef 'Medium Bar Pan'.

~Bake at about 170C for 30 minutes or so, until lightly golden.

~Cool slightly and slice into squares when still warm.

~Sprinkle generously with sugar.

~Savour it's delicious taste and bask in the warm glow of domesticity.

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

How to make a LEGO brick cake

When I was looking online for ideas on how to make a LEGO cake for Calum's birthday last week I really struggled to find something useful.

There were plenty ideas for LEGO themed parties, many with a LEGO cake, but no suggestions as to how you go about making said cake.

Now, I realise it's not exactly rocket science.

Just cover a cake with icing and add some studs on top.

Still, I thought I'd share how I went about making ours anyway, as there are plenty LEGO fans out there!

You will need:
Victoria sponge mixture x 2
quantity of butter icing (100g butter/margarine beaten with 300g icing sugar and 1tsp vanilla essence)
around 1kg of white sugar paste icing
strawberry or raspberry jam

So, firstly I used my Victoria sponge recipe, which is here, and a square Brownie Tin to make the cake. 

Actually you need double the amount of cake mixture so that you can make two squares and sandwich them together.

~Sit the two squares on top of each other and then slice straight down the middle. Leave one half this size and cut the other half again, horizontally this time.

Making the coloured icing was my next task.

I use these gel food colourings as you need so little of them to get a good colour and they don't dilute the icing or whatever it is you are making.

~Take about half of the sugarpaste and turn it red.

Using a cocktail stick or skewer, add some gel colouring to the icing and then knead it in until you have a solid colour. 

Keep adding more and more, a little at a time until you get the shade you want.

A word of caution though.

The red does take a while to make as it stays quite pink for a while.

And by the time you get to the shade you want, you end up with hands that look as though you have been up to something gruesome!

~Split the rest of the sugarpaste in two and colour each half in the colours of your choice.

I went with yellow and green.

~Sandwich each of your LEGO bricks (the rectangle and the two squares) together with the butter icing and some jam.

~Take a small section of your coloured sugarpaste (let's say red to start with), and mould it into some little flattish balls. These are the studs.You will need 8 for the rectangle and 4 for each of the squares.

It's best if you have a LEGO brick available to compare the scale of these against your cake.

~Now using a cocktail stick or skewer, write LEGO on each ball/stud, in capital letters of course!

~Roll out the sugarpastes, a colour at a time, and cover each of your blocks.

~Rub a little bit of water on the bottom of each LEGO ball/stud (this will help them stick) and place on the cakes.

As a finishing touch we added a selection of favourite LEGO mini-figures, and believe me, we have plenty to choose from in this house!