Friday, 29 March 2013

Things I'm Loving - Easter Holidays

Our Easter holidays kicked off with a couple of days at granny & grandad's house, where we helped them celebrate their 47th wedding anniversary (as seen in the post below).
Whilst staying with them we were looking for a day trip to do that we hadn't done before. We decided to go and visit Scotland's national football stadium, Hampden. This was something grandad had never done before either and so he was just as keen as the boys!


How about some Scottish Football Trivia?
This here is the Scottish Cup, the oldest football trophy in the world!
It spends the year on display in the football museum and only comes out on the day of the Scottish Cup Final at the end of May. The team who win the final are presented with the trophy but once the presentations are done the cup goes back under lock and key, and the winning team are given a replica trophy to take back to their own stadium.




At the stadium we wandered around the football museum...






....before going on a guided tour of the stadium.


The boys learned where the term 'an early bath' came from and saw which was the early bath...



We saw the home and away dressing rooms...


...and the indoor warm-up area. The highlight here was the chance to take a penalty shot against a machine that recorded the speed of your shot.
David (7) was especially chuffed to be able to say he had scored a penalty at Hampden. Plus, he recorded a faster shot than any of his brothers!


The biggest highlight of the day though, especially for David and Calum, was the chance to walk out the tunnel that the players go out of and onto the pitch side.
They had worn their Scotland tops especially!




It was a really good place to visit, although I guess if you're not a football fan then perhaps less so. I only wish that our current Scotland football team weren't playing quite so dreadfully as they are just now. Not like the glory days when I was growing up! Well, not quite glory days, but at least we used to qualify for some major championships!
Anyway, I digress!
Another fun trip we took with granny and grandad was to Glasgow's Kelvingrove Art Galleries & Museum. I hadn't been here since I was at primary school!


My favourite displays in the museum were the Charles Rennie MacIntosh ones.






After a few days with granny and grandad we headed north to our next holiday destination - staying in the house of friends of ours. It was a beautiful drive north and, despite the continued snowfalls, the main roads were thankfully all clear.


Hoping everyone has a happy and blessed Easter weekend, whatever you have planned. Oh, and if you are in the UK, don't forget to change your clocks this weekend too :0)


Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Celebrations and a quick & easy recipe

The past couple of days have seen a couple of celebrations in our family.

Firstly, we celebrated my husband's birthday. After last year's milestone birthday (remember the Birthday Barge?) this year's one was a little more low key! A day at home with the boys and a special dinner.

He requested a slow cooked beef & red wine casserole, which I cooked overnight in the slow cooker. I also added bacon, parsley & mushrooms and the finished result was wonderfully rich. We had it with some puff pastry (not homemade!), roast potatoes and broccoli.


Rather than make a pudding as well as a birthday cake I decided to combine the two. Using my trusty Old Fashioned Chocolate Cake recipe, I made some individual chocolate cakes in a silicone mold.
We brought one of these cakes over to dad with a little candle in it before serving them with some raspberry coullis and whipped cream.


The day after my husband's birthday his parents celebrated their 47th wedding anniversary!

We came through to stay with them for a couple of days and cooked them a special meal to celebrate their anniversary. The pudding I had made the day before proved so popular with everyone that it was requested again for granny and grandad.

So, the quick and easy recipe is for raspberry coullis. Simply add 300g raspberries (fresh or frozen, it doesn't matter), 100g icing sugar and the juice of half a lemon to a pan. Heat gently for about 5-10 minutes until you have a lovely jammy looking mush. It will take a little longer if your berries are frozen.

For a proper coullis you should then push the whole thing through a sieve to get a smooth, seedless sauce, but I like the rustic look of it just as it is.

You can serve it slightly warm straight from the pan or cool it down and have it chilled. It is wonderful with chocolate cake and equally good with ice cream. I'm sure it would be lovely with some pancakes and a whole host of other treats too!

You don't need to wait for a double celebration in your family to try it out either!


Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Thank you...

Thank you everyone for your kind comments, concern and prayers about Alasdair's current battle with his eczema. It really means a lot to me, and our family, to have so many lovely friends across the world!


I'm pleased to say that Alasdair has been taking his yucky medicine like a trooper, 4 times a day, and is showing some improvement. I showed him the post from Monday night today and he wanted me to take another photo of him today to see how it compared!



Although the sore bits are still there, they are no longer weeping and he hasn't been complaining of them as much when he eats either.


He also wanted to show everyone his hands...

...which were due a dose of moisturiser at the time, and he was very concerned that his toothbrush should be in the photo too :0)


And his sore little ears? They are getting there slowly too.



He was feeling so much brighter yesterday that he ventured outside to the play outside in the snow with his brothers, although he didn't last too long as it was quite windy too and the wind chill really was quite bitter. Not ideal for his little face but he didn't complain.


We had another fresh dumping of snow on Monday night and it continued to fall all day Tuesday. There is yet more forecast for the end of the week!

Hard to believe that this time last year was the start of an unseasonably warm week, with temperatures of around 21C. Yesterday didn't even get anywhere near above 0C! I was just re-reading this post from last year and longing for a little bit of that warmth to return soon!


Monday, 18 March 2013

Brave Little Soldier

It's been a tough couple of weeks for my littlest man.

While we have never yet had a day, or night, free from his eczema, he has had a particularly bad flare up over the last fortnight.

I suspect that it kicked off when we had the sore throat/achy bones/high temperature/flu type bug in the house. David (7) and I suffered with it the worst, spending three days doing nothing but lying on the sofa. Although Alasdair(3) didn't complain of any of the symptoms of the bug, it was around the same time that his skin flared up. I'm pretty sure he did have some version of the bug and when his immune system was down his skin took the toll.

This has always been something of a pattern in the past with all of the boys who have eczema. Whenever they are under the weather then their skin shows how it's feeling too!

Anyway, back to brave little Alasdair.

His sore patches got bigger, his skin was sore from top to toe, literally.

He had big patches of weeping skin in his hair, which then crusted over and were sore to touch. I've been putting coconut oil on them the last few days which has really helped soften the big lumps. The trouble is that it leaves his hair looking greasy as well as the fact that his hair is now full of yellow flakes! I feel compelled to tell everyone when we are out that I am not a negligent mother and I do wash him! Thankfully, in one sense, it's still snowing here and when we do venture out he keeps his hat on!


I was trying to hold off getting antibiotics for him and see if it would settle down with just the creams and ointments, of which he has many, but decided today that it just wasn't working. He was just so miserable, poor little man.


Look at his little ears.



And his beautiful face.

Those sore patches around his mouth have really been bothering him the last few days. They are better, and smaller in this photo than they had been! It's been sore for him too eat as it hurts those bits when he opens his mouth too far. Several times he came over to me the last few days, wanting to sit on my knee, saying, 'gort, gort' (sore, sore in Gaelic). He has been good at asking for his creams when his hands start to bother him, or to put on his face.

Today he started his course of antibiotics, so hopefully in the next 24 - 48 hours we should see a big improvement and see some of his little sparkle come back!

Like I've probably said 100 times on here before, don't let anyone tell you eczema is just a bit of dry skin!


Monday, 11 March 2013

Any sign of Spring yet?

Well, not here anyway.


Heavy snow from Sunday night right through until late afternoon today has meant that any thoughts of Spring making an appearance are kept firmly at bay.




Not everyone is desperate for Spring to arrive though and the boys were all keen to make the most of what may (or may not) be the last snow of the season.
James (13) was very good at clearing the driveway and digging the car out.


Alasdair (3) was happy to stomp about in the snow. He looked out this morning and said, 'the snow is strong today.'


While Calum (10) and David (7) were determined to roll around in it as much as possible!






I don't actually mind this sort of weather though. Lots of nice snow is much better than cold, grey rain! Having said that, I hope Spring doesn't stay away too much longer!

Friday, 8 March 2013

Bake it like Berry - Weeks 3 & 4

With all the extra spring cleaning over the last couple of weeks, and then this week we have had a horrible sore throat bug in the house, there hasn't been a huge amount of cake baking going on.


That's not to say that there hasn't been any though, and so here are the latest bakes from Mary Berry's Baking Bible.


~ Firstly was a nice simple Victoria Sponge, which I made gluten and dairy free.


I quite often make a Victoria Sponge because it is so quick and easy, and Mary's recipe is very similar to mine, as I guess most Victoria Sponge recipes are.
The main difference is that I don't usually add baking powder as I am already using self raising flour. Mary does ask for some, despite using self raising flour, and so I added it too. I think it made the cake even more light and fluffy.


It certainly didn't stick around on the plates for long!


~Secondly I made a Strawberry Pavlova. I love a pavlova but I only make it if we have visitors coming as three of the four boys can't eat egg whites. This one was for a fellowship lunch at church.


~Lastly, I made a Lemon Drizzle Traybake.
I forgot to take a close up photo of this one, and when I remembered that I needed one, the cake was gone!
That's it on the left of the blue plate below.

I didn't make any allergy changes to this recipe and the two boys who could eat it absolutely loved it. They especially loved the crunchy sugar topping. I make a Lemon Drizzle Loaf, recipe here, which also has the crunchy topping but I think as the traybake is cut into squares rather than the thin slices of a loaf, you get a lot more of the sugary crunch per slice, which made them enjoy it all the more.


Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Eczema Outreach Scotland

Last year I heard of a new Scottish charity for supporting families of children with eczema. Eczema Outreach Scotland is based quite near us. It was set up by a mum of a girl with eczema who became frustrated at the lack of support available. Now, about 18 months after the charity was set up they have around 150 families on their books.


We joined last summer and received one of their lovely welcome packs. Younger children are given a cuddly toy along with a little set of some of the bandages that are used for eczema and some moisturiser. The theory is that to encourage the children to put their creams on they can help put them on the teddy too. Alasdair absolutely loved his teddy, and still does about 9 months later. He has called him Scratch and likes to put the bandages on him.


Back in November I was invited to accompany Magali, the founder, as she collected an award for the charity. We had a nice dinner at a hotel and chatted about all our experiences with eczema. A little explanation of what the award was for can be found in the latest charity newsletter here.


One of the things Eczema Outreach do is organise family days out every few months. These are a way for children to meet other children in a similar situation to themselves as well as for parents to support each other.


Last weekend one of these events took place in our town so we all went along.

There was a dance workshop for the children, which our boys politely declined, but they also had the option of joining in with the craft organised for the adults, which they did, and really enjoyed!

The craft was decoupatching boxes and here we all are hard at work. Alasdair was a bit camera shy at this point!


At the end of the day each family had a Polaroid photo taken of them with their boxes so that they had a nice momento to take home with them.

Alasdair was very willing to smile this time, and to show off his box that he had made entirely on his own. That's his box at the front left of the photo below.

It's such a good idea to get together with others who understand what hard work it is living with a child who suffers from eczema (or three of them!). Especially how difficult the constant sleepless nights are!

It's also really helpful to talk to other parents about different creams and medicines, distracting from scratching techniques, how to help your children cope with managing their condition at school etc.

There are a few more photos of the day on the Eczema Outreach website here.


And finally, my husband wrote his own account of living with eczema (he has had it since he was a small boy) on his brand new blog which I have been promising to plug for the last few weeks! You can find this here. Do pop on over and say 'hi' to him or send your other halfs over - Thanks!



Monday, 4 March 2013

Craft Night

Last week we finally had a run of a few bright and sunny days and it really began to feel like Spring was tantalisingly close.

The mornings were so lovely that I would throw open the windows of the house to get some fresh air in and blow away the cobwebs (not literally!), only to find myself running around closing them about an hour later when I realised that bright sunshine does not equal warmth. Not in February in Scotland anyway!

The trouble with these bright days though, especially after a winter as long and dark as the one we have had, is that you see how filthy your windows have become over the dull months. Not anymore though, as last week I gave them all a really thorough spring clean. We have a window cleaner comes once a month to do the outsides but somehow David (7), the football mad one, had managed to get a muddy football print on nearly every window, including the upstairs ones! I couldn't let that spoil my hard work on the insides and so by opening them as far as possible was able to stretch to cleaning off the football marks.

The window cleaning then sparked off some major spring cleaning of wardrobes and cupboards, which ended up being rather major, hence no time for blogging last week, but it feels good to have it all sorted.


After such a busy week it was great to take time out on Friday night at our first ever Craft Night at church. It was quite a luxury to have a couple of hours uninterrupted crochet time!

We were teased a little bit by our men folk when they saw the large number of cakes we had brought along!
There was some knitting, cross stitch and crochet.
This is my current work in progress, a sort of shell stitch shawl.
There was also some sewing and some card making.
By complete coincidence we had a bit of a purple theme going on with our crafts!

Everyone there agreed what a lovely evening it was and the plan is to hold our wee group once a month. We're hoping to have some nights where everyone learns a new craft and others where we just do as last week and bring along our current WIPs.

I'm hoping to see how many I can convert to my love of crochet!