Friday, 30 January 2015

15 months old

It seems like every time I have an update on little Fraser I start by saying what a delight he is, but, well, he really is!

He still remains a mostly happy, contented little man.

On these snowy days he loves to be outside with his brothers when he can.

He has been cruising around the furniture since he was about 10 months old and has gradually held on less and less. Within the last couple of weeks he has really gained his confidence with his walking, and has gone from staggering a few steps with arms outstretched like a zombie to waddling back and forth up and down the room carrying things in his hands.

Like shinty sticks, much to his daddy's delight!

At 15 months he has four top front teeth, four bottom front teeth and four molars. In keeping with his lovely nature he didn't grump when cutting his teeth and the first I knew he was getting them was when they broker through!

He has an enviably thick head of soft wavy hair, which I keep saying I need to trim but haven't quite got round to doing yet.
When I was showing James (15) his own baby book the week of his birthday recently we saw the lock of his hair from his first hair cut in it. You would never believe it to see James' dark hair today but when he was Fraser's age it was the exact same shade.

Until about a month ago Fraser wasn't so keen on food with bits in it at all. I wasn't too concerned about it though as Ally (5) and Calum (12) were exactly the same at that age. All of a sudden he went from eating pretty smooth foods to eating exactly what the rest of us were eating.

His food allergies are dairy, wheat, egg, nuts, soya and coconut!
I'm hoping his egg allergy will be the same as the other boys - they can eat egg in cakes/biscuits when cooked but not on its own like boiled/scrambled/poached egg, meringue or touching raw egg - but I haven't been brave enough to try him with cakes containing eggs yet to find out.
At the moment I'm trying to perfect some egg free cakes and one day I will try him with a cake containing egg. But not yet.

He loves to feed himself.

Which sometimes goes well.

And other times gets a bit messy!

One little habit he has is that if he is falling asleep in my arms he likes to hold onto my hair.

He was given this little shirt at Christmas and we think he lives up to what is written on it!

Here is a little clip I took of him last week walking and 'talking'. He is even steadier on his feet this week than he was in the clip but you get the idea!

Monday, 26 January 2015

Make it Monday - Crochet Maybelle Square Cushion

Remember the cushion I made my granny for Christmas?

Well, she loved it.
So much so that she said it would be nice if she had two of them!
It's her birthday at the end of January and so I said I would make her another one for her birthday. After all, if you can't get what you ask for when you turn 91 then when can you?!
The cushion starts out with these lovely little Maybelle Flowers - you can get the free pattern here.
Then they are turned into squares and crocheted together. The pattern for the squares is found on My Rose Valley blog.
For the back of the cushion I'm just making v-stitch stripes like I did on the first cushion.


I didn't have any of the pinks left that I used for the first cushion so I've made this one up in some pinkish purples from my yarn stash.


I also have a deadline, which always helps! My mum is down for a week visiting my new baby niece, and so I want to have this finished before she leaves at the end of the week and she can take it back home to my granny.


I'm also itching to get back to my colourful blanket that I shared last week!

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Makings - Two new projects for the new year

The first of my current makes is, of course, a crochet one.

It has a little back story too. Don't worry, just a little one.

You see, my husband's sister does not like to go shopping very much at all. When birthdays and Christmas come around she likes us to send her a link with what we would like and then all she has to do is click on it, pay for it and wait for it to be delivered!

I like to be surprised by presents though, and am not too keen on just asking for something. Since there was nothing I really needed anyway, I decided to ask for some yarn. I discovered that the Wool Warehouse sell yarn in the different colour combinations used by Lucy from Attic 24. I emailed the link to my three favourite colour packs and told my sister in law that she could choose which one. Then I still got the surprise.

She chose well as it was actually my favourite option that she bought - the colours for Lucy's Cosy Crochet Along that she did in November/December.

There is a really detailed tutorial here if anyone is interested in making one of these blankets, full of pictures that would really help a beginner out.

It's such a simple pattern and has an almost soothing rhythm to it as you work along the rows. Once the first couple of colours are done you don't really need to think about what you are doing any more and so it's the perfect sort of project to work on when your attention is also needed elsewhere - as mine almost always is!

The colours in it are so beautiful too. I love the richness of them and can see why it was called the 'cosy' blanket.

Here it is alongside an assortment of Alasdair's superheroes and Fraser, who was just waiting to crawl right over the blanket!


Hi mam!

Aren't these colours such a delight? 

Perfect to work on and add some cheer to the greyness of midwinter. 

I'm planning to keep this blanket in the living room for us all to snuggle under on cold days and evenings while watching a movie or reading together.

My second project that I have on the go at the moment is one that will last all year.

Across on Instagram I came across the Frosted Pumpkin Stitchery, who design cute cross stitch patterns. Last year they had a year long 'Once upon a Time Sampler' which was how I first heard about them. Each month they released a new part of the sampler, a new nursery rhyme for each month of the year, and I loved seeing everyone's samplers grow.

This year their year long sampler is based on Classic books and I knew I wanted to join in.

Image of 2015 Story Time Sampler PDF Cross Stitch Pattern

Long before I began to crochet, in fact when I was about the age James is now, cross stitch was my big craft love. 

This month's book is Alice in Wonderland and this is my progress so far, although this is only a couple of days worth and I haven't worked on it nearly as long as I have on my blanket!

I didn't trust my counting from the middle to the top right where the first month is so i worked my way up by stitching the parts of the frames that go up from the middle, if that makes sense!

Unlike my crochet blanket, this is not the sort of project I can work on when there are distractions around!

Still, it's going to look so pretty when it's finished. 

And the fact that it is only a month at a time makes it so much more manageable than getting the whole pattern at once!

Monday, 19 January 2015

Weekend happenings

This weekend got off to a fun start with a heavy snowfall on Friday afternoon.
I love how the trees out the back of our house look in the snow.


Eskimo baby was desperate to get outside and join his big brothers in the snow.


He just loved sitting in the snow and watching what the boys and their friends were up to.


Not only did they make a snowman (who happens to be a Hearts fan), but also gave him a pet snowdog.








No activity is complete for Mr Selfie without the obligatory selfie!


I love how a snowy day gets everyone out of their hibernating state and spending time back in the outdoors again.


Just before dinner on Friday, David (9) and I walked their friends back home through the fresh snow.

We took the sledge along with us and David made the most of it on the way back down the hill home!



Can you see him in the photo below?


On Saturday morning we had the sledges out again.
This boy giggled, squealed and screamed all the way down every time we went down. His laughter was so contagious!
He always came in the sledge with me and because we had the weight advantage over the other boys, who went down on their own, we went so much faster. Hence the giggling and squealing!
Eskimo baby went in Calum's sledge and wanted to go over and over again.
Back home and warmed up (and aching a little bit from some bumps on the sledge!), it was then time to get working on cake and a special dinner for our oldest boy.
Because this weekend he turned 15!
If you have been following the blog for a while you might remember what he always chooses as his birthday dinner.
That's right. Homemade steak pie, which we had with potatoes roasted in goose fat.


I was quite pleased with how his cake turned out.


A very simple idea but it looks so impressive.


And chocolate cake surrounded by chocolate fingers and covered in M&Ms was a perfect cake for our chocoholic boy!


He let Fraser enjoy the candles with him.








We still have plenty snow in the garden. I can't say the same about the chocolate cake though!

Thursday, 15 January 2015

Recipe of the Week - Gluten & Dairy Free Pizza



Whenever we have pizza for dinner I always use Nigella's pizza base recipe from How to be a Domestic Goddess for the ordinary pizza. It never fails and is really quick to rustle up (as long as you remember to start it early enough to give it an hour to rise!)


For the free fromers I used to make either a scone base using gluten & dairy free ingredients, or buy a free from pizza base from the supermarket. The latter was the easy option but if you've ever had to buy free from pizza bases then you will know the impossibility of getting them home without them breaking!


A couple of weeks ago, when pizza was on our menu, Calum (12) asked if I could try and find a recipe for pizza base that was more like the normal one we have. Thicker, softer, and more like a proper pizza.


I read through a few recipes online, looking for one that didn't have too many steps, or contain too many fancy ingredients! The best looking one I found was on the Doves Farm website and so I took that one and adapted it to make it dairy free too. I might even try it without the egg next time so that little Fraser can have a bite, but I am a bit concerned that might give it less rise.

The method couldn't be simpler. Just put all the dough ingredients in a food processor and blitz together.

Don't expect a dough like a traditional pizza dough though. This one is much wetter and there is no way you will be able to roll it out! I've included a photo below so that no one is alarmed when they see their 'dough'!

The toppings are up to you. I've just given our boys' favourite here.

And we don't use dairy free cheese substitute on top of our pizza as the boys don't like it. I can't blame them either as it smells nasty, and we have found you don't need it.

For the pizza base you will need:

250g Doves Farm Gluten Free White Bread Flour
1tsp quick yeast
1tbsp sugar
150ml water
1/2 tsp vinegar
2 tbsp olive oil
1 egg

For the tomato sauce you will need:
Tin chopped tomatoes
3 - 4 tablespoons tomato purée
3 - 4 tablespoons tomato ketchup (double check it is wheat free! Some brands are not)
Suggested toppings:
Sliced onions
Sliced peppers
Handful of corn
- Put all of the pizza base ingredients into a food processor and blitz until you have a smooth mixture, almost like a batter.
- Line a baking tray with greaseproof paper then pour out your pizza base mix.
- Spread it into a roundish pizza shape.
- Bake, without any sauce or toppings, in a preheated oven at 180C for about 10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, mix your three tomato ingredients together in a bowl. You won't need all of this mix for one pizza but if you aren't making more than one pizza then you can keep the rest in the fridge for something else. (I added the rest of our sauce to our bolognese a few nights later.)
- Take the pizza base out of the oven and spread on some tomato mix. You want to cover the base but don't put it on too thick or you will end up with a soggy base. About a third of the tomato mix should be fine.
- Arrange the rest of your chosen toppings on the pizza base and return to the oven to cook for another 15 minutes.
- With a normal pizza the cheese layer keeps the toppings from getting too crisp before the base is cooked so your final step is to cover the pizza with either a layer of greaseproof paper or tin foil then cook for another 10 minutes or so.
- Your pizza is ready when the edges have a lovely golden colour.


Monday, 12 January 2015

Christmas & New Year Memories 2014/15

Last week was the week I was going to get back into regular blogging after the holidays but, well, it just didn't quite happen!


Now, before I leave it any later, and as much to keep a record for ourselves to look back on in future years, a wee look back at our Christmas and New Year.


Rather than post a lot of photos here I made up a slideshow using the Flipagram app, which you can see below.


I haven't included everything form the build up to Christmas in the clip. Like the high school Christmas concert at Edinburgh's Usher Hall, where James (14) played in the senior windband. I think their best piece was a marvellous version of Troyka. There was also the sweet nativity play that Alasdair (5) took part in. He had been singing the songs from it around the house for weeks!


My parents and youngest brother came down to spend Christmas with both us and my other brother's family. It was their first time coming down here for Christmas so we were really looking forward to having them with us. We had my husband's family with us for Christmas Day so my mum, dad and brother spent that day with my other brother, sister in law and their boys. Then on Boxing Day we had a second Christmas Day with my parents and brother here. We even left swapping presents with them until they were round and so spread out the excitement over a couple of days.


For Hogmanay we almost always go through to stay with my in laws but this year we were on standby as my brother's wife was expecting their fourth baby on the 29th December and we were on standby to look after their three boys. Instead we had a quiet Hogmanay in the house. We spent the earlier part of the evening making 'Ninjabread' men and decorating a chocolate gingerbread house. Then as the bells approached we switched on the tv to the Gaelic Hogmanay programme. The boys did a little ceilidh dancing along with the ceilidh band on the tv.


One little thing about my slideshow is that although I added the photos in chronological order, somehow the last few got a little mixed up while it was uploading so after the Hogmanay photos there are a few more photos of our Boxing Day Christmas!


Anyway, you get the idea.



Oh, and my brother's new baby arrived, 11 days late, on Friday. A little sister for her three older brothers. The first granddaughter for my mum and dad after 8 grandsons! She weighed in at a very healthy 9lb 14oz and both she and my sister in law are home and doing fine.

Monday, 5 January 2015

Make it Monday - Handmade Christmas

I hope everyone had a lovely Christmas and New Year. 

We had a busy time over the last couple of weeks, which included two Christmas days - one on the actual day with my in laws and the other on Boxing Day with my family. But more of that in another post perhaps.

Tonight it's a quick reveal of all those crochet gifts I have been busy making since right back in August, but that I couldn't share until they had been received!

Starting off, in no particular order (although this was the first gift I made), with the cushion I made for my granny.

For my aunt I made a set of little coasters.

My mum and brother's wife both got a Russian doll cushion. The pattern is from Annaboos House.

My husband's sister loves the outdoors and Calum (12) asked if I would make her a chunky cowl similar to the one I made him a couple of months ago. I also made her some matching wrist warmers. I didn't have a pattern for these. The colours are also not as dark as they look here but I was snapping the picture late at night before wrapping them up!

Another lovely Anaaboos house pattern for my mother in law's gift. 

I can't remember if I already shared these but these were the little purses I made for the boys' primary school teachers. Yes, you've guessed it, another Annaboos House pattern! 

I wanted to make the older boys a little something crocheted too, and thought long and hard about what I could make James (14) that was still cool enough for him. Thankfully Pinterest came up trumps and I found this pattern to make baby Groot from Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy. I wish I could have taken a picture of James' face when he opened it up! It certainly had the desired effect!

For Calum (12) I made this Koala cushion.

And David got a similar penguin one. 

Alasdair (5) has asked for a monkey cushion, and is happy to wait for it. As you can imagine, I didn't have any more time left before Christmas to make anything else!