Saturday, 31 July 2010

Happy Anniversary

This was me, twelve years ago today.

Today my hubby and I celebrated our 12th wedding anniversary.

I woke up this morning to find a beautiful big bunch of red roses in the bedroom. He must have sneaked them in when I was still asleep. There was also a bag of gifts including the book, 'The Love Dare', based on Fireproof the film and a beautiful pearl bracelet.

I am thankful to God every day for my wonderful husband.

Tonight we went out for dinner, alone! Just the two of us!

Seriously, we did. I thought I'd show the lego set my oldest made up today. He came through and said, 'This is you and dad tonight.' Very sweet.

As we hardly ever get out alone, we took advantage of being at my parents' for babysitters. Also, my brother, wife and 3 boys (aged 8,6 and 2) are here on holiday too so it is a house VERYful of boys just now.

We had a lovely meal at the same hotel where we had our wedding reception. At the risk of boring anyone with the details, I had: falafel balls to start, mediteranean chicken skewers with cous-cous, and rhubarb mousse. Andy had: smoked mackerel pate, salmon steak, and banana & chocolate croisant bread and butter pudding.

We had an early dinner and so were back before the boys were in bed. They were having so much fun with their cousins that they had hardly noticed we were gone!

To finish with here are my then and now photos.

Perhaps I will blog at a future date about what I've learnt about how to have a happy marriage!

Thursday, 29 July 2010

Fun day at the beach

One of my good friends from church (not that I think I have any BAD friends!) is up here visiting family just now as well. We agreed a couple of days ago that we would get together on the beach today as the weather forecast was favourable. It wasn't hot sunshine but it was dry and not cold, and we are hardy types, so off we went.

My friend, Angela, has three children (aged 5,3 and 9 months). Her husband is studying for the ministry so he is back at home just now while she is on holiday here, giving him a little bit of peace in the house to study for up-coming exams! He is also one of my husbands closest friends.

Also at the beach today with us were Angela's sister, Ann Mairi, husband and family of four children (aged 12, 9, 5 and 1) and 2 of their friends, and also their dog, so we were quite the crowd.

Ann Mairi provided the barbecue for us and then it was off to play in the sand and to brave the sea. The temperature was around 18c maximum today and the sea here NEVER warms up but it was fun!

I think I'll let the photos do the rest of the talking. Before you scroll down though, I should just say that this island has the most beautiful, unspoilt, unpopulated beaches in the world.

Told you!

Isn't that just perfect?

'Hurry up and eat. Let's go and play!'

The tide was going out so it didn't take long for this fort to run out of water!

Calum (7) was the first to brave the waters.

This photo was supposed to show that I was brave enough to go in the icy seas but was taken too close. I really did go in though!

I can't think of a caption to do this justice!


Little man loved playing in the soft white sand.

This isn't my hubby falling over, but landing after dune-jumping. I could never get a photo of anyone mid-air.

So there we have it. Fun for everyone and some very sleepy boys in the car afterwards!

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

We're on our Hebridean holidays

On Friday we packed up the car and headed off on holiday to the Outer Hebrides where I am from, and where most of my family still live. We were ultimately heading for my mum and dad's house on Lewis but spent the weekend on Skye, an island closer to the mainland, visiting friends.

The trouble with planning for a Hebridean holiday in summer (or any Scottish holiday actually), is that you can never quite tell what the weather will do and as a result you have to take twice as much stuff with you so that you are prepared for every eventuality! This was why our car was full to bursting with all the paraphanalia you need to have fun on the beach in the sun as well as all the wellies, waterproofs etc you need to have fun should the sun NOT make the appearance you hoped for.

Friday was, actually, a beautiful day, and we had a lovely drive up through Glencoe and over to Skye. Having grown up in such a beautiful country, I think we can sometimes take this sort of scenery for granted, so I made sure I took a few photos this time!

On Saturday there was an open day at the local lifeboat  so we got to have a look around the boat.

We spent  Sunday afternoon, between the church services, with some good friends, The Nicholson family.

Monday morning, we visited the local pottery and James had a go on the pottery wheel. I must confess that I thought since it was his first ever attempt it wouldn't go too well but he proved me very wrong and made a lovely goblet and bowl. Calum and David both painted some ready-made pottery.

We went from here to visit some other friends, The Macqueers, for lunch. After we had been well fed we took a walk down to the shore at the bottom of their croft with the boys' fishing nets. They managed to catch quite a few shrimps and some crabs and we were thoroughly soaked to the bone when the rain came on us very quickly. So much for those carefully packed waterproof trousers. I'd left them in the car thinking, 'Och, we've got our jackets and wellies on, we'll be fine if it rains.'

From here it was back to visit the Nicholson family where our boys and their boys (and the dads!) played shinty followed by football before we all had dinner together.

And all that brings me up to this morning, when we got the ferry over to Lewis and drove up to my parents'. We were here by lunchtime and spent the rest of the day just relaxing after a packed weekend. The boys have been out running round the croft and David rescued a chicken from the new Jack Russell puppy!

Saturday, 24 July 2010

Craft of the Week (courtesy of James)

Well, since I have been too busy these last few weeks to get any craft of my own going, I thought I would share my oldest's latest project.

James (10) is our little inventor. He has a wonderful imagination and is always making up new comic strips or building something out of junk. He loves history and his current area of interest is Knights and Castles. He has been reading up about them for the last few weeks.

This last week he has been busy making a scroll. He took a long sheet of paper and ripped the edges. Then he stained it with a wet teabag. Once it was dry he copied the lettering out of one of his books. When it is complete he is going to put a wax seal on the bottom. I'll post a picture of it when it is done. So far I think it looks very authentic!

He also came through to me the other day and asked if we could have a medieval banquet for his birthday dinner and can we all dress up in medieval clothes, him as a knight of course. He is going to go online and research what sort of food they would have had at a celebration. His birthday isn't until January!!!!

Friday, 23 July 2010

Recipe of the Week

Wheat & Dairy Free Cupcakes

5oz Doves Farm Wheat Free Self Raising Flour
5oz sugar
5oz dairy free margarine
2 eggs
2-3 tbsp soya milk

Tip the flour, sugar, margarine and eggs into a bowl and beat together with an electric mixer until smooth and creamy.
Add the milk and beat again for a couple of minutes.
Spoon into muffin cases and bake for about 20 minutes at 180c.

The cakes in the photo above have been topped with a butter icing made by beating together 12oz icing sugar and 4oz margarine. I also added blue food colouring as these were for Alasdair's first birthday.

The cakes in the photo below were made in slightly smaller bun cases and were iced by Calum (7). We almost always have a batch of these in and he likes to put the icing on them. If I know we have visitors coming then I make the fancier looking ones with the piped buttercream.

Thursday, 22 July 2010

Robin Hood and his merry men

After popping into the supermarket for a couple of things today, and I really did just buy the things I had planned to buy, I ended up buying an archery set too! We had seen it a few weeks ago and the boys were desperate for it. Today it was reduced in price so I was persuaded. I'm glad I was, as the boys had a great afternoon with it, and they have big plans for it when we get to Granny and Shen's (my parents) island croft.

When James (10) was trying it out this afternoon, Calum (7) came running out of the house with an apple shouting, 'Who wants to play William Tell?!' He then ran over to the shed and stood there with the apple on his head!

At this point I should mention that although I firmly believe that boys should be allowed to be boys, these are not real arrows and have suckers on the end!

Here is my handsome and strongwilled little David (4) keeping up with his brothers.

This and that

Today (well yesterday really as it's getting so late!) the boys and I had a check-up at the dentist. I always worry about going to the dentist and then when I've been I don't understand why I've been worried! We walked in today to find out they had a power cut. My immediate thought was, 'yes - a reprieve!' but we waited about 20 minutes and then the power came on again. In we all went to see the dentist and everything was fine. All that worry over nothing.

Then my parents-in-law were through and wanted to take the boys out somewhere so we headed to Tumblezone. This is an old warehouse that has been converted into a soft play. As it was a wet summer holiday day I thought it would be really busy so we waited till about 3pm before going. Good plan. Although it was still quite busy when we got there, a lot of people were just leaving and after we had been there about an hour it was almost empty. The boys then had another hour left on their tickets. A great time was had by all.

Now, I'm just debating with myself what to put up for recipe of the week this week. Cupcakes or Gingerbread biscuits? I'm off to bed to sleep on it.

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Walk through my garden

This photo of our back garden was taken a few days before Christmas. Excuse the funny dimensions, but it was taken from an upstairs window. We had a long, cold winter this year, with six weeks of constant snow in December/January and another two/three weeks of snow in February. (Stick with me, there is a point to this!) I had big plans for that far left corner, which had gone a bit to rack and ruin with pregnancy no.4 and the subsequent summer with a newborn. But the winter seemed to go on and on, and spring was also very cold.

Fast forward now to around April. The weather was warming up and the ground was drying up enough to let me tackle this corner.
'Where do I start????'

Not only did the ground need cleared, but the fence was in dire need of a coat of paint.

Now fast forward again to July and.....


I'm rather proud of my little vegetable patch. Especially when I consider how most of it was done with a rather clingy baby hanging onto me!

 Although I always have pots of salad, herbs and strawberries in the garden, I haven't tried any 'proper' veg before. Now I've got squash and courgettes in the first bed; chard, beetroot and dwarf beans in the second and good old tatties in the far away one. Behind the tatties, in the corner, are my rasps and rhubarb (although I've just used up a lot of rhubarb so you can't see it!)

Here's a close up of the rasps,

Now come for a quick walk around the rest of the edible parts of my garden.

On the patio are various pots (and two little rascals at the door):

To the left of the door are:
Strawberries at the back, bush tomatoes, some overgrown rocket that I need to re-sow and a couple of wee pots of basil.

To the right of the door are:
Some new rocket seedlings, lettuce, tomatoes and flat leaf parsley.

In the cold frame are some more bush tomatoes;

Around the corner, in front of the kitchen window are the taller tomato plants;

Now I need lots of sun to get these little ones to turn red!

I've got a couple of big bags with more tatties and these hanging bags along the fence with more strawberries (these strawberries are proving too much temptation for the pesky squirrels!)

And to finish off tonight's tour, here is my little herb garden, in the corner of he garden closest to the kitchen door.
In here I have lots of mint, chives, sage, oregano, margoram, thyme more flat leaf parsely and basil.

So there we have it! I'm reading 'The Edible Garden' by Alys Fowler just now, which is giving me lots of ideas for next year. Onwards and upwards, I say!